Today was a good day.
Facebook was lit up with blue in support of World Autism Awareness Day. Major buildings from all over the globe shined a glorious blue light putting emphasis on a disorder that has so shaped my life. Autism.
Autism Awareness Day in my family looked a lot like another day. My lovely wife wore her Autism earrings, dressed the boys in blue shirts adorned with puzzle pieces, I chatted with The Pier Center for Autism’s Board President Josh Cobbs 4 or 5 times (on and off-air), educational and daycare staff made it their mission to help my son, Trey (9 years old) , in every way possible. Beau (his 7 year old brother) was by Trey’s side all night long and he told me he really wants Trey to live with him when he gets older so he can keep an eye on him. Talk about heavy thoughts from a first grader on a Tuesday morning. Three people asked me how I thought Trey “got Autism”. My response: “I have no clue”.
This may come as a shocker to you – in our family - we are well aware of Autism. We see it every waking minute. It weighs on our minds daily. Many questions remained unanswered. Some days are better than others. Some days aren’t. You learn to adapt. You learn to pray. You learn to hope.
You can’t preach understanding.
We knew nothing about Autism Spectrum Disorders 8 years ago. We viewed “Rain Man”. That was it. The first thing we did when we had concerns was to hop on WebMD. That’s a night I never want to relieve. Some of what we read that night came true. Trey is 9 years old. He is non-verbal. He still wears pull-ups. He “flaps” his arms when he gets overly excited. He’s different from his peers.
In other ways, WebMD could not have been more wrong for us. Trey is VERY LOVING. His mind is always working in overdrive. He has great eye contact with us. He can melt your heart with a single glance and giggle.
You just never know.
Since Trey’s official diagnosis at the age of 3, it seems as though society “gets it more”. The level of awareness and knowledge base has increased tremendously. Maybe it’s because it is more diagnosed, far more radio/tv stories about the subject, Facebook and Twitter posts, print articles and the like….
I’d like to hope it’s because more people meet kiddos like my son. More hearts have been melted by a giggle and a grin.
I appreciate every single question I get about Autism. It means people are trying. I love it when a parent like my buddy Josh from The Pier Center starts an organization that betters the life of those like Trey. It always better to have dreams and an action plan.
Awareness is a great start. Next year, let’s have World Autism Action Day!
KSUX Program Director / Pier Center for Autism Board member / Autism Dad / Dreamer / Fan of Action
Sioux City, IA
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