By Sharon Fuentes, Mama’s Turn Now
Guest blogger Sharon Fuentes, author and editor of Zoom Autism Magazine writes about April Autism Awareness month and autism acceptance in action!
It’s April and there is a whole lot of talk about awareness. But I heard this the other day, and well it just kind of made sense…Awareness is a concept, Acceptance is an action! I love this saying in so many ways. I believe that awareness and acceptance go hand in hand. But perhaps not in the way you expect. Let me explain…
To me, acceptance is embracing the fact that just because someone may not communicate in the same way we do, does not mean they don’t deserve to be heard. Acceptance is knowing that this world is big enough for all kinds of different thinking, different ways of doing things, and just well…DIFFERENT in general! Different is what will come up with a cure for cancer one day, different is what will create musical masterpieces, different is what will fix your computers, create the movies you go to see, give you the best hug you ever got and just fill our world with more color and beauty!
With this new knowledge about acceptance, I decided that the best way I could celebrate April was to celebrate my son and do all those accepting things I mentioned before. There are lots of actions I would like to take, things I would like to say. But, I really have no right to do so; because while I love my boy with every ounce of my being and would slay a dragon for him…I am not autistic!
In order to know what it is that I need to be asking the world to accept, what actions need to be taken; I need to be aware. (See that is how they go hand in hand! But wait it gets better.) Being aware means shutting up and listening to the people who really know best… those on the spectrum! So I asked my 13 year old son Jay two questions and then I stopped talking and really listened to what he had to say. Our conversation went like this…
Me: Jay it’s April and you know what that means, Autism Awareness month. This year I want to ask you a couple of questions and I would then, with your permission , like to share it with the world. The two questions are… What do you want? and What do you need?”
I shut my mouth after that. I did not try to explain them or put ideas into his head, I just let him process those two questions and waited. What he said was so simple yet so deep! He said…
Jay: “I WANT to be understood. To have people accept me just the way I am and not make me feel bad. I NEED help because I don’t think what I WANT will ever happen. I NEED people to break things down when I need them and to support me and lead me to be the best I can be!”
Then Jay went back to playing on the computer and left me there to process the importance of what he had just said. This April and then May, June and every other month there after I know what action I will be striving for. I will do what ever I can so that my boy can live in a world where his WANT can happen, because every person deserves to be understood and accepted just the way they are!
Awareness is a concept, Acceptance is an action. What actions will you be making this April?
Sharon Fuentes is the author of The Don’t Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger’s, the co-Founder of Zoom Autism magazine, a Special Needs Advocate /Public Speaker and lover of exclamation marks! Email [email protected] or contact her via her Mama’s Turn Now Blog or FB page.