Today's post comes from a fan. Sheri is a mother of two boys (12 & 8) from Gig Harbor, WA. When I asked her to describe herself a little bit for all of us, she sent me back this:
Above all else, we try to spread the message of inclusion and acceptance. Compassion and understanding, and we are blessed to have an amazing Village helping us raise them.
Inclusion and acceptance, compassion and understanding.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I compassionately present Sheri...
April is Autism Awareness Month. April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day. It's gotten me thinking about how I am aware of Autism. I know, I know it seems silly but a mere 5 years ago I couldn't have told you much about Autism. What a change a few years makes. I give you my "awareness" items:
~ There is a saying within the Autism Community that "if you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism". Yes, many people with an Autism diagnosis share the same traits, but like every person on the planet no two are the same. I have learned that I am not an expert, and I intentionally shy away from anyone who claims they are. Don't get me wrong, there are many who are far more educated than I am on the topic but to call someone an expert, to me, implies they are all knowing. That is not true. The mind is an amazing, complex, confusing thing. I have yet to read, hear, or learn of anyone who is truly an expert when it comes to Autism (in my opinion).
~ Autism is not my fault. This is important. It has taken time, years, for me to learn this fact. It is not my fault my son has a diagnosis of Autism. It is not because I allowed him to be immunized. It is not because I did something while pregnant. It is not because I wasn't healthy enough, or rich enough, or religious enough. Do I think there are contributing factors? Absolutely. Do I think there is a genetic component? Yes. Do I wonder if my son was pre-disposed to developing Autism after being vaccinated? Maybe. Do I have a theory that it has something to do with our environment? Perhaps. But, bottom line is, it is not my fault. God gave us him, and him us for a purpose. That I am sure of.
~ I am now aware that every person I come in contact with has a story. Every. Single. Person. I admit, I was very judgmental. I didn't know it at the time. I thought I was always a good person, a nice person, but my heart and soul tell me different. I would without a doubt, let judgemental thoughts in my head. Please don't get me wrong, I am FAR from perfect now, but I am at least conscious of it. I hear that voice in my head and often remind myself that they have a story. This is one of my favorite lessons so far.
~ Lights make noise, and dance, and flicker. My son has taught me that. Every environment has a smell, sound, a "life" of it's own. I am constantly on alert for triggers. I don't even realize I'm doing it. I can feel his anxiety build. As if he is gripping my arm, I can truly feel it.
~ I am aware that there is nothing embarrassing about wearing your Halloween costume to the grocery store in July. Or rubber boots with shorts. Or striking up conversations with random people on the street.
~ I have become aware of frogs and snakes. Of dinosaurs, and lizards, and monster trucks, and WWE wrestlers. I have become aware of Minecraft. I have become aware of the Periodic Table, and Greek Mythology, and Chinese Warriors.
~ I am aware of how lucky I am that my son has words. So many beautiful souls who share the same "label" as him do not. I have also learned and become aware that not every emotion can be expressed with words. Sometimes you have to yell and scream. Sometimes you have to jump, and flap you hands, and just laugh.
~ I am aware that I am strong. I am smart. I was meant to be the woman to be chosen as his Mother. I cannot tell you why, but of this I have no doubt. I have a lot to learn and I am far from perfect, but I am the best Momma for him.
~ I am aware that a diagnosis, a label, does not define someone. My son is not defined by his label. My son is smart, funny, kind, empathetic. My son is amazing. He will do amazing and incredible things.
I have become aware of the fact that cliches ring true. They really do grow so fast. When in doubt, pray (or meditate). Laughter is the best medicine. Actions speak louder than words.
....and that he is aware of Autism everyday, but he likes Chicken Burger Tuesday better.