Today, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. If you see random buildings lit up blue, this is why. I have mixed feelings about “celebrating” Autism Awareness Day. I love my son fiercely, as any mother loves her child. He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, he makes me cry, as any child does. I will be forever grateful for that.
1 in every 50 boys is diagnosed with autism and the numbers keep rising. Part of it is better diagnostic tools. Part of it, they just don’t know why. Autism has been a part of some of the greatest minds in history and that is a wonderful thing to point out, that these kids can succeed and can bring beautiful and wonderful things to our lives and to the world.
But autism isn’t pretty. It isn’t fun. When a child or adult can’t handle the sensory input from the world around him it causes meltdowns that they mostly have no control over. When they totally miss the social cues that you and I take for granted, friends are few if not impossible. No one comes to their birthday parties. I saw a number recently that only 28% of adults with autism are able to hold down jobs. That is a scary future. Divorce is extremely common in parents of any special needs child, and the stress that it places on them has been compared to that of a veteran in combat.
I will celebrate my son and the joy and the life that he brings, but I am not going to glorify or celebrate autism. I will be grateful for the things it has taught me and the way it has made me a better person. But Autism… It really stinks.