National Autism Awareness Month

by beagooddad on April 21, 2009

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This will probably end up being one of those rambling stream of consciousness posts. But autism is one of those rambling stream of consciousness type of subjects for me.

April is National Autism Awareness Month in the states.

I’ve been pretty silent about that both online and off. I’m kind of getting tired with the overexposure that autism is getting in the media these days. Sometimes it seems to be more about who is supporting it than celebrating/helping the people with autism. But I’m sure that has more to do with the overexposure than the actual intent.

I’ve received and ignored about a dozen emails asking me to highlight various special programs, camps, etc. designed for children with autism and/or their parents; almost all of which seemed to at least have their heart in the right place.

There might come a time when my kids are older that I might get involved in advocacy or organizing events or whatever but that’s not where I’m at right now. In fact, I don’t even really know what National Autism Awareness Month is really supposed to be about.

The Autism Society of America has a page showing 8 ways to celebrate the event.

#4 on their list is to read a book. They recommend reading The Horse Boy which is subtitled “A Father’s Quest To Heal His Son.”

I have a couple problems with that phrasing.

First, I don’t really think about autism as something that needs healed. It is not a sickness. People with autism might have more medical problems but those medical problems are not autism. I haven’t read the book so there’s a decent chance that the book is completely different than the thoughts that subtitle triggers in my head.

Second, the book is written by somebody without autism.

As a non-autistic person who sometimes writes about autism on this blog, I don’t have a problem with that but if you really want to promote autism awareness, why not recommend a couple books written BY people with autism. I have two that I would recommend off the top of my head for anybody that has any relationship with people with autism.

Both of these books provide amazing insight into the life of a person with autism because they were written by people that actually have autism. I read both books at least a year ago and both books are still helping me to change the way I respond to and play with Pookie in ways that are improving our relationship. I have a few posts planned on that in the nearish future.

I’ll even go a bit further and recommend a blog, also written by a person with autism, called NTs are Weird. I am forced to reconsider my thoughts more during 5 minutes on that site than I would during any month grassroots movements. For example, a bunch of states have passed laws requiring health insurance companies to cover a lot of therapies for children with autism. It sounds like a great idea. But is it?

And if you spend the time to read all 3 of these writers, you will notice that people with autism are all very different and have very different need and wants.

I’m not suggesting that people that don’t have autism should not have a voice and cannot provide valuable insight. MOM – Not Otherwise Specified is one of my favorites because her son reminds me so much of Pookie sometimes.

I would just like there to be less feeling that autism is this strange thing that needs to be handled in this strange way to the extent that we need an awareness month about it. But maybe that isn’t so special these days. We seem to have an Awareness Month for just about anything anymore.

But if you want to do something for Autism Awareness Month, I would hope that you do something that actually lets you interact with a person with autism either by reading/listening to what they have to say or hanging out with them. Not much will make you more aware of differences and similarities, needs and wants than that.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

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