Doing our part for autism awareness

Autism Awareness Month is drawing to a close. I’m not particularly overwhelmed, as every month, actually every day, is about autism awareness around here.

Each day we become more aware, and I think the people we interact with become more aware, too.

I guess it’s nice that a month is set aside to help people better understand the issues surrounding autism, and it’s helpful to get the media on the bandwagon with stories such as this in The Denver Post. So often people have preconceived ideas about autism, or think that certain stereotypes are automatic. They saw “Rain Man” or “Temple Grandin” and think that all affected by autism have the same symptoms when in fact it is quite variable.

One of the best questions I’ve ever been asked when explaining that my son has autism is: ”What does that mean, exactly?”

Harrison just turned 7. While I know the challenges we face from day to day, I still don’t exactly know what it means that he has autism.

Last evening I was to attend a community meeting of the local farmers market. I’m on the board. Because of commuting and work circumstance I needed to take Harrison along. I thought perhaps he might cooperate, but I was wrong and it was my fault for not thinking it through better. Plus, he was getting a cold and not feeling well.

I often push the envelope with things like this, hoping that through these efforts Harrison might over time and through repetition develop better social skills, and I might also learn important lessons in humility. Actually it’s working in both cases, but it’s a slow process.

When Harrison walked out into the circular seating arrangement and disrupted the discussion with loud talking, smiling and waving in a circle at everyone in attendance I realized we couldn’t stay. We exited through the back door of the library. While Harrison was upset about not staying for the meeting, at this point I just didn’t care about the meeting or the farmers market.

My positive thought as we drove home was that we had just done our Autism Awareness Month duty. Several members of our community got an up-close look at autism, a wave and a smile. Maybe they realized what they were seeing and maybe they didn’t. Still, I bet none of them knows exactly what it means.

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