April is Autism Awareness Month. Without going into the multiple reasons why I think Autism Speaks can suck it, I’ll just put it simply. I don’t believe in lighting it up blue in April. At our house, autism is every day. I don’t see the point in taking one month of the year to wear t-shirts about autism, change my porch light, tag my vehicle, and pass out fliers, only to stop 30 days later. That’s a cop out to me.
Let’s talk about colors for a minute. Breast cancer’s awareness color is pink. Epilepsy is purple. Autism is blue. These are all things that affect my family in various yet powerful ways. So, here’s what I propose. Since our Christmas lights are still hanging, albeit sadly, and somewhat loosely, I think I should just plug those suckers back in and let people ask what’s going on. Depending on what website you visit, the list goes on ad infinitum for awareness colors and ribbons for every possible cause, disease, and disorder. Same basic principle, right? No? What’s that? You think I’m making light of this? No pun intended…
In my mind ( feel free to disagree here, people), autism awareness is spread in different ways for different people. I have long said that autism does not define us. And, I won’t let it define my Logan. I suppose I could paint him up like a Smurf for preschool, but I hardly think that would get the point across. It’s not about the colors, people. It’s about awareness of autism, the services and therapies needed and received, or declined. It’s about our children, our neighbor, or that kid in school. It’s about people. It’s about sharing a cause. It’s about getting what our loved ones need. Not lights.
There are new numbers out for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders; 1 in 88. Two years ago, when I started my site, it was 1 in 110, or 1 in 70 for boys. It’s getting pretty real, isn’t it? Everyone knows 88 people. Heck, I have more that 88 friends on Facebook, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. So instead of just changing a porch light, wearing a t-shirt, slapping on a bumper sticker, or buying that specially branded license plate for your state, start talking! Talk to the special education teacher in your school. Volunteer for the special needs preschool. Help a parent of a child with autism, because heaven knows they need it. Donate to your autism charity of choice, if that’s what you’re able to do. There are so many out there that are truly amazing. Contact Early Intervention in your area and see what resources they stand in need of. There is always a need for sensory toys, books, manuals, art supplies, etc… you will become their new best friend, and the donations you make will assist children many times over.
Far be it from me to tell you NOT to light it up blue. But if you do, please remember, actions speak louder than a blue porch light. This April, really help to spread awareness, and acceptance with your actions. I’d consider it a personal favor.