Friday, April 13, 2012

From Wildeman's Words

Reflecting on World Autism Day

Whenever I see a comment that says "Autism is everyday, not just once a year" in reference to Autism Day, I have to pause for a moment. Some say that just to add to awareness, but some are genuinely insulted that there is a day on the calendar named for our cause. And that's not just the cause of people like me who are lucky enough to be verbal, or parents working with their children, but everyone who lives with autism, everyone.

Having a day on the calendar given to us in this manner is not to suggest that people should only pay attention to autism once a year. It is a grand step towards educating and awareness and we should all be proud of it and thankful for it. Every step that goes towards awareness is a good one and having a day is no small achievement. And lets also not forget that April is also Autism Awarenes Month!

Let me put it another way with an example. Take Veteran's day. Veterans should be thanked whenever you come across them, not just once a year. But there's a lot more to veterans day than that, isn't there? It's a day set to commemorate them and honor them.

Yes, to those of us who live with autism, it's every day. To those who don't, we need to not expect people to wake up and pay homage to autism every day. There's only so much you can expect out of people who don't live with it. There's a fine line between education (awareness) and shoving something down someone's throat. Don't shove it down their throats, the results always turn out bad.

Now, look how far Autism Day has come. It's gone from being celebrated with blurbs in the newspaper to being heralded on all media sources. I saw an advertisement that said "make it blue" and liked that. It's for awareness and everyone sees it. It won't be long before you go buy a calendar and find it marked on that day. That's a great achievement towards awareness.

So I say "thank you" for autism day! Thank you for a day that brings awareness to so many people across the globe. Thank you for a day I don't have to break my own back to give out that awareness. Thank you for a day that may mean less stigma and more understanding for a growing issue. Thank you for showing me how much you are trying to understand.

The day is an honor, not an insult. It's recognition, not ignorance. Should efforts continue to provide awareness and education year round? Of course! No one is saying it shouldn't.

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