Let me tell you a story. A little less than two years ago, I became pregnant, and like most prospective parents, this time was met with a mixture of elation and unadulterated terror. I was so excited that I was going to be a mother, and at the same time, I was plagued with the same fears all expectant parents have.
"What if there's something wrong with my baby?"
As it turned out, my pregnancy was not a normal one. I was in and out of the hospital almost weekly for tests and scans. I saw maternity clinic doctors, as well as specialists, who gave vague assurances that if I were careful, I could give birth to a perfectly healthy baby.
It soothed my mind to a point, but I knew that nothing was certain, and there were things that couldn't be tested for. By week 20 we knew we were going to have a little boy. The word, autism, floated around in the back of my mind. The statistics are scary. The rates of diagnosis are rising. Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. There is no detection. There is no cure.
What if my baby is autistic?
And then I met a man one day who changed my whole outlook. He proudly showed me photos of his grandson, born to his autistic son. He told me that his grandson had also been diagnosed with autism, and my response had been "I'm so sorry." He looked at me like I was from another planet.
"There's nothing to be sorry for," he told me. "It's not bad, it's just different."
My face went red. I was embarrassed. I'd made assumptions based on a stigmatized condition. I'd shown him pity, rather than understanding, and he'd called me on it. He spent the next few minutes telling me stories about his son and grandson, explaining how they saw the world differently, and because of them, the man viewed the world differently as well.
That conversation, which didn't last longer than ten or fifteen minutes, changed my perception. Yes, the statistics are scary, and yes, autism is life-altering. The spectrum of disorders ranges from mild to severe, but there is still much that is unknown. Researchers are making progress, but they have a long way to go.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day.
Last month, I was given the opportunity by two different authors to help make a difference.
RJ Scott is raising awareness through a network of blogs (including this one!). Check out her post here: http://rjscottauthor.blogspot.com/2015/04/world-autism-awareness-day.html
T.M. Smith is hosting an auction to raise money for autism research. You can bid on a variety of prizes and books (including a paperback copy of Thirty Things), donated and signed by their authors.
Here is the link to her post explaining what it's all about:
And here is the link to the album where you can bid on the prizes:
For more information on autism and autism awareness day, you can visit: