As you may already know, today is “Light it up blue” for Autism Awareness Day. April is also considered Autism Awareness Month. There has been considerable publicity leading up to this day and many people are participating on social media by sharing photos, changing their avatars and posting information about Autism. I’ve also seen numerous segments on various broadcast outlets over the past couple of weeks featuring representatives from Autism Speaks and parents who have been impacted by Autism.
It feels like we have reached an interesting juncture when it comes to Autism Awareness. General awareness of Autism has skyrocketed the past few years – nearly matching the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed on the spectrum. Its almost impossible to speak to *anyone* about Autism without them mentioning that they know of a friend or family member who has child on the spectrum. We’ve also seen a huge increase of awareness in schools and other institutions. And this is also good. The more we can help those in position of power and leadership recognize children, teenagers and adults on the spectrum and better understand their special needs (and capabilities), the better chance we have at fully integrating these individuals into our society in a productive manner.
I’m not doing anything particularly special on Autism Awareness Day because for me, pretty much every day is Autism Awareness Day. Having a son on the spectrum is a daily reminder about the unique challenges that he faces in our world. This is why its been part of my mission to use social media and my blog as a tool to help share information, knowledge and personal experiences about Autism.
While I know there are many areas and communities where awareness needs to continue to grow, I agree with @mamabegood in that I’d like to see a shift towards acceptance. Of course one needs to be aware before they can accept so perhaps this is how the movement will have to progress organically.
I’m very grateful to live in an area and community that has so many resources available for us and our son but am well aware that this is not the norm throughout most of the country. Now that we’re better understanding just how many children are impacted by Autism we need to allocate resources appropriately to provide support for literally millions of families who need it. That is my greatest wish on Autism Awareness Day, 2013.