Monday, February 29, 2016

Why I Talk About Her Diagnosis

Autism Awareness Month is less than a month away and talks of Autism will be filling the air. My social news feed is already blowing up with reminders to either start a walk, raise money, and light it up blue, all in the name of Autism Awareness.

Granted, it's imperative to talk about Autism and do these things throughout the month of April, but what about now or after the blue lights fade? You see, I am one of those parents who constantly talks about her daughter's autism diagnosis to anyone willing to listen. I do this on a daily. Why? Why in the world would I share something so personal with strangers who could potentially use my words against me? 

Well I'll tell you why, but first, get it. I understand why some families are very selective as to who they share their child's diagnosis with mainly due to preconceived labels and judgements and what a shame this is to feel such a way.

For instance, if someone wants to keep my daughter or family in a label bubble or decides to not associate themselves with us after learning Autumn is autistic, guess what, that's their problem, that's on them. Also, what kind of friend would that be? Honestly, would anyone want to be friends with people who are afraid of autism or anything else that may not fit into that perfect box image? I didn't think so. Plus, I truly don't care what people think of me and my family. If they want to judge us or not associate with us because we're a special needs family, oh well. Their loss. Our gain. 

In addition, how are we supposed to support a world full of inclusion, awareness, and acceptance if we don't talk about the diagnosis? If we are so afraid to let that cat out of the bag that it holds not just our families back at being able to try new things, but it hurts the child and/or individual we are advocating for? 

We as parents and caregivers are responsible for creating a world where our children should have every opportunity to excel despite autism or any other disability. By talking about the diagnosis and then educating others about autism (or any disability for that matter), we encourage more sensitivity and understanding. We break down barriers and remove stigmas one step at a time. We open the eyes and minds of others who may now go throughout their days being less judgmental towards that parent with the screaming child in the store or down the street. We open the pathways for love and acceptance as well as kindness by sharing our journeys. 

This is how we change the world. It's a 365 day a year ideal, not just only promoting this belief throughout one month. 

Lastly, I talk about my daughter's diagnosis because I'm proud of her and all that she is. Autism is a huge part of her life and our everyday struggles as well as triumphs, but it isn't our entire worlds. I want people to see that autistics are more than autism. They can love, enjoy being around others, communicate their needs, have hobbies, and live fulfilling lives with/without support. That Autism isn't a one-size fits all glove like so many people assume. Like a beautiful snowflake, autism is just as unique. 

So the next time a stranger starts asking you questions about your child, don't be afraid and share with them their diagnosis. You might even make a new friend that day or at least you did your part in promoting awareness, acceptance, and love all for the greater good at making this world a more sensitive and caring place. 



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