One in 68.
That’s what they tell me. That my son is one in 68.
You see, my Munchkin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2012, just after he turned 7. I had my “coming out” as an autism mom two years ago on social media. (Read that story here.)
ASD is a part of our life every day now. Some days, you’d never know that the Munchkin isn’t a neurotypical kid. In fact, he’s just about to “graduate” from the social development portion of his ABA therapy program (even though we’re still working on emotional regulation, sensory integration, and other challenges). Some days, I jokingly call him “my little Sheldon” (all you BBT fans should get the reference). And there are some days when his rigid thinking rub me entirely the wrong way and it takes every ounce of my willpower to react to him with patience and understanding, rather than anger and frustration.
But even on the rough days, I couldn’t be more proud of this kid. Over the span of 6 years, he went from being a nonverbal, frustrated toddler to a young boy who is clever, curious, interactive, and who likes to argue with his mom about bedtime and flossing and whether Jaws is really real. In that time, I haven’t just learned about autism. I’ve learned about myself. I’ve become more patient and understanding than I could have imagined (even though I still fail miserably sometimes). I’ve found new depths in my heart. I’ve had to face questions I couldn’t have fathomed dealing with. And even when I hate it, I wouldn’t trade a moment.
So I want to share some of this feeling, these moments, with all of you.
April 2nd, 2015 is World Autism Awareness Day, and for many years now, there has been a global campaign to “Light it up Blue” for Autism Awareness. This campaign is gaining traction, as some of the worlds largest cities and places get involved. This year, companies, athletes, products, and communities the world over will be wearing blue to support Autism Awareness. Even the Great Pyramids in Giza will be lit up in blue!
Therefore, the Munchkin and I hereby officially invite each and every one of you, regardless of where in the world you are or what you are doing that day, to join us in wearing blue to show your support for the autism spectrum community. Wear your blue shirts, break out your puzzle piece jewelry, stop by Home Depot and pick up your Philips #LIUB light bulb for your front porch. Heck, just print out this handy-dandy #LIUB selfie sign and shoot a few pictures, no matter what color you’re wearing.
Then, if you’re of a mind to share, the Munchkin and I will welcome posts, comments, emails, and submissions via social media of your 2015 Light It Up Blue pictures!
Autism spectrum disorder is not a death sentence. It doesn’t necessarily even need “cured”. It just needs to be understood. My ASD hero, Temple Grandin, says that people on the spectrum are “Different, not less”. Let us all seek to understand. The ASD community has amazing things to offer to the world, if we can only learn to listen.
World Autism Awareness Day 2o15 is less than 7 days away… won’t you @LightItUpBlue?