April is Autism Awareness Month. Most of you know that. And like many people who live with autism every day, I lean towards the view that every day is autism awareness day for us. It is very hard to forget about. It’s there in the little things as well as the big moments – from the little hand flicks and flapping and jiggly walks to the meltdowns over not being first to brush your teeth.
April is also the month that Perky celebrates his birthday. So, as of last week, he is now 7 years old. Naturally, the main theme of birthday presents was Lego. The Husbeend kindly spent a total of 5 hours constructing this:
There was also a birthday party, which went spectacularly well. Autism didn’t really show up for the party. There was face painting (Perky ended up choosing to be The Penguin from Batman), balloon animals and balloon swords (source of much glee and hilarity from several boys) crafty fun (glitter glue is a big hit with girls) and even some origami Yoda finger puppets! (Thanks to Alysia of Try Defying Gravity for telling us about this!) Once one of the boys added a pipe cleaner for a lightsaber, they were complete!
April is also the month that The Autism Experience book was released. I have my copy, and I have almost finished reading it. Here is a link to the publisher to read more about the book. This book is extra special for me as I have had the privilege of meeting a few of the contributors. Seeing their names in print gave me such a thrill, I can only imagine how proud they all are of their words. Thank you, especially, Valerie, for ensuring this book came to be. Thank you for inspiring so many and encouraging people to put into words their experiences, wisdom, hope and spirit. I think this book, as you can tell, is awesome. Yes, sure I am biased. It really, really is awesome.
As I started to read, I was inspired to write about autism and what it has brought to my life. The good the bad and the ugly. So in honour of April – Autism Awareness, Perky’s birthday and all, this is just some of what I think about how autism has impacted my life.
I thought I was patient. Before Autism.
I have since learned what real patience is.
Autism has taught me the depths of my love, the depths of my compassion, the depths of my passion and just how patient I can be. And boy, I can be really, really patient.
Autism has enriched my life. Autism has changed my course. Autism has rocked us and shifted the very ground we thought we were walking on. Autism has helped me see the world differently.
Autism impacts every decision we make, it has forced a whole new chapter of learning. Autism breaks my heart and reminds me how hard, cruel and overwhelming the world can be.
Autism has brought me to my knees, shaken my ideas about the world, challenged my concepts of faith and humanity. Autism has brought me pain, fear, despair, grief, humility, and loneliness.
Autism has brought me joy, love, friendship, awe, and the ability to recognise and celebrate what seems inconsequential but is in fact, monumental. Such as hearing ‘I love you, Mummy’. And being able to use a toilet. And tasting a new food. And then (some time later) eating that food. And then eating that food more than once. And brushing teeth unassisted. And reading. And writing. And asking ‘why?’ And sleeping through the night.
Autism has changed how I parent and it has made me feisty. I am still figuring out when and where to let the ‘feisty’ out.
Most of all, autism has brought me friends, some of whom I have not met in real life, who understand and care. Autism brought me here, to blogging, and this is where I have found my voice, trying to make some sense of the life we now live.
“Teach this triple truth to all:
A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”