Tuesday, April 2, 2013

50 Shades of Blue

Today is World Autism Awareness Day!

Truth be told, everyday seems like world autism awareness day in our house because everyday our world revolves around the awareness of the needs our kids with Autism have. But today we celebrate. Today we love all that Autism has brought to our world. Today we are loud and proud that, in our world, Autism is not a disability but a different ability. That's our world.

When I talk with people about Autism I usually hear one of two stereotypes. Either the image of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, a socially awkward genius, comes to mind or I hear stories about how someone had an unpleasant experience in a restaurant or movie theatre because of a non-verbal yet extremely disruptive social misfit. While both can be true of people with Autism there are a million shades of blue in between and that's where most people living with Autism reside.

Autism, in all its forms, is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there is a large umbrella that covers a variety of symptoms and characteristics. No two people with Autism are the same ... just as no two people are the same. What is true for Dude rarely applies to Crafty but they both are 'on The Spectrum.' And while Dude and his best buddy Kent both have Asperger's Syndrome, both have excellent memories and both love Lego they couldn't be more different in other ways.

I think that today, of all days, as we celebrate people with Autism and all that they are, we need to understand that before the disorder, before the symptoms and challenges, before the stereotypes that they are above all else, individuals. Each person with Autism is a person. They are more than surface behaviour, quirks and ticks. Each person with Autism has gifts, talent and abilities. They have the capacity to love and be loved. They have emotions and feelings, even if they can't always express them appropriately. They have beauty and light and life. They have endless potential.

This video shows some of the challenges, hope and diversity of people with Autism ...

Blue is the traditional colour for Autism Awareness and today, World Autism Awareness Day, people across the globe are donning the blue in support of people with Autism and so are we.

Dude has been having a rough year at school. He has been the target of bullies because of his 'disability' and there are days that he feels worthless and hopeless. We, as a family, are working to help him see the positives, to work towards success and to surround him with people who respect and value him. In an effort to lift his spirits today I'm asking people to take a picture of themselves, in blue, and post it to Twitter or Instagram with the tag #BlueforGavin. Its my plan to show him the pictures when he get home from school today so that he can see that he, and kids like him, have value and are loved and respected, too.


What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.
~Temple Grandin

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