April is Autism Awareness Month, and today specifically is World Autism Day. As a mom to three boys with autism, and thinking about what to write about today, I struggled. What exactly do I hope to make you aware of? Is awareness enough? Some would rather call it “Autism Epidemic Action Month“, and I’d have to agree. Awareness isn’t, nor has it ever been, enough.
So what should you know, to help take action?
Is it just the autism statistics in general, and that likely someone you know has a child with autism, whether they realize it yet or not? In 2007 the CDC reported that 1 in every 150 kids is diagnosed with autism.
Is it to share what my life is like, with the supplements, the therapies, the tantrums, the lack of sleep, the stress, the missing connection with my kids, the fact that I don’t get to have conversations, cuddles or heart to heart moments with my boys very often, if at all? Just so you can be a bit more understanding when I don’t return that call or email right away?
Is it to tell you that the rate of divorce among the autism community is so high and astronomical (nearly 80%) that it’s not only heartbreaking, but shows that more than just the children themselves need help?
Is it to make sure you know that even in a great economy parents of autism are hurting, because of the huge cost (and often lack of insurance coverage) for any and all treatments, often reaching hundreds of thousands for just one child, never mind during these oh so trying financial times?
Is it to tell you that even when my kids are doing better, it doesn’t mean they’re healed (yet!), and forgetting that they still struggle feels to me like forgetting all that we’ve triumphed over?
Ultimately I know that our country can no longer hide from this issue, too many are struggling to brush aside this epidemic. As families we many times feel as though we suffer in silence (even though we won’t tell you that), because our children don’t typically have overtly physical handicaps. Most of the time they appear “normal”. But just getting through a day, much less a week, a month, a lifetime, is a constant battle.
But every day, as I live and breath and experience my children, I don’t see their struggles. I look into their eyes and see their souls, even if their souls can’t look back at me. I see them, the real child, the real person, that is locked inside a broken body. I know that if they could they would tell me to not give up, to keep trying, that they love me and that one day this journey will be behind us.
A distant memory of a time when we didn’t understand, but we just hoped. We just lived.