For many parents, today is the last day of term with one long weekend followed by two weeks to spend with their children at home. For me, it is that, and so much more.
April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. A day I wasn’t even aware of until two years ago, and a condition I knew nothing about till 4 years ago. Today is about spreading awareness of a condition which affects 700,000 people in the UK, and taking into account their families, touches the lives of 2.7 million people, every single day.
If you’re reading this via Facebook, and you’re one of my friends, I know you’ll know what autism is. I’ve made my families journey with autism public for just over three years now. I’ve done it because I want to normalise a condition which I knew pretty much nothing about, as I’d never been exposed to it. I’ve done it because it helps me cope with the situation. It’s an outlet, it’s therapeutic. I’ve done it because I’m so incredibly proud of my daughter and I want everyone to know that disability does not mean inability.
But for anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with autism, it is a lifelong and disabling condition, which without the right support, can have a profound and often devastating effect upon individuals and their families.
Autism affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and makes sense of the world. Autism causes difficulty in three main areas, social communication, social interaction, and social imagination.
For me, it’s important to create awareness as autism can be described as an invisible disability. A child having a meltdown brought on by a variety of factors (light, sound, smell), can easily be mistaken for a ‘naughty’ child. I want my child to be accepted and understood. I want to feel supported, and not judged.
But most of all, I want EVERY parent of a child with autism to feel their child is accepted and understood. I want EVERY parent of a child with autism to feel SUPPORTED, and NOT judged.