Today's post for Autism Awareness Month comes from a fan. I threw out on the Facebook page for user submissions to answer this question: "What does Autism mean to me?"
This blog comes from Veronica Phillips. She is from the Central Valley California and wrote this when I asked her to tell me a little something about herself:
I'm 26, I'm a wife and mother above all. Before a diagnosis I was pursuing a teaching degree for special education with a focus on Autism. I took a few years off since her diagnosis. I'll be finishing my teaching credentials with a dual focus in multiple subject credential elementary education as well as special education with the Autism focus. I'm getting involved in anything I can to raise awareness. My family and friends are amazing and a support I appreciate everyday.
I have never met Veronica but, as so many of us will, can share her story.
Powerful and beautiful.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present Ms. Veronica Phillips...
What does Autism mean to me? Let's be truthful here, to me it meant never ending struggle for my child. My daughter was diagnosed at 3 and I did what most parents did, I cried. She will always struggle. She won't know one single day without a struggle. Easy days don't exist for her.
After a good cry and yell at God I had the task of calling my loved ones. I heard over and over "I'm sorry", "she'll overcome", and even a few "she will outgrow it." I got around to calling my Grandma, whose son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She said the only thing that gave me peace, "Be grateful because you are raising her in this day and age. Be her voice when nobody else can be. Make people aware of her, and take on her struggle."
So I did. My family moved out of state to a place with better services, we have jumped at every opportunity, and she has grown tremendously in these almost 2 years. She is talking now, she communicates!!! We have come so far.
When Faith was first diagnosed Autism to me meant watching her struggle. Now it means shouldering that struggle and fighting. Fighting for her, for people who have Autism and making people aware. She is barely going to be 5 and yet she is teaching me so much about life and looking at people with a different perspective. She is touching the lives of people we know, and changing them for the better. She is my rainbow through this storm. Autism isn't easy, but together we will fight on.