It’s World Autism Awareness Day! I went back and read our Autism Awareness Day posts from previous years and found they still capture what I think needs to be said about this day and what it means. However, I’ve found it difficult to keep perspective on this day year after year. Autism for us is a way of life now. The farther into the story you go each year, the more the layers of it build, change, and grow. You live it so completely that it’s hard to take a step back and really appreciate the richness and challenges of our journey and know how to share all this with others.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a three-part “Be Aware” series that listed pretty much everything I thought people should be aware of on this day. There’s Be Aware – For Parents, Be Aware – For Family and Friends, and Be Aware – For Everyone. I’ve been honored at the positive feedback I’ve received about these posts over the last two years. Hopefully you’ll find them worth taking a look at and sharing with people you know.
Last year, I also struggled with what this day means in the post “The Many Flavors of Autism Awareness”. Raising awareness is for most of us a 24/7/365 effort. I decided to take some time last year to become more mindful of all the kinds of awareness we should practice and encourage in others just to remind myself what our journey is all about. Re-reading it today helped me get back into that essential mindset.
Around the first anniversary of J’s diagnosis, I brainstormed ideas for practical actions people could take and created five suggestions for World Autism Awareness Day. I think I was more practical and into bullet points and step-by-step plans then. 🙂
What seems almost poignant in retrospect is that the first World Autism Awareness Day (as designated by the United Nations) was about two weeks after J was diagnosed in 2008. It was clear from my words how frustrated and overwhelmed we were. We have come a very long way since then.
I’ll close this with the same words I closed the “Be Aware” posts. It feels like the most important point I want the world to know about me. I talk a lot about lows and highs, challenges and frustrations, exhaustion and hope for a better tomorrow, the trials and the triumphs. Life is a wild rollercoaster for all of us, and those wonderful highs and wrenching lows regularly become emotionally and physically exhausting. But if you know nothing else, know this.
Be aware that I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.