When I was younger, my family cared for a boy with severe non-verbal autism. He was a sweet boy. I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up with a brother like him.
It wasn’t always easy though.
Caring for him was no solo effort on my parents’ part, it was a family effort and we all loved doing our part.
Because the nature of his autism, I remember that all our doors had those funky white plastic safety handles placed on the outside of them to be safe. Our drawers had special securements or zip tie mechanisms placed on them and he had a special car seat we used everywhere we drove.
Needless to say, my friends were always confused the first time they came over. I felt pretty cool because I could open up the doors and undo the locks without any issues.
We all enjoyed helping make his lunches at night, making him breakfast in the morning before school, walking him out to the school bus, waiting for him to get home from school and more.
These are some of my fondest memories.
When I was younger, this was my formative experience with autism. It is what I assumed everyone with autism was like. Once I made it to high school, I met other students my age who were diagnosed with varying degrees of autism. This was quite eye opening.
After high school, I began working at a therapeutic boarding school. Many of our students had varying degrees of autism, Asperger’s, processing deficits etc. Yet again, my eyes were opened up a bit more to the breadth of coverage the word “autism” encapsulated.
It is important for us to recognize this breadth and understand that no two diagnoses are alike.
No justifications or excuses need to be made for our children. Truly, it is the larger global community that needs to practice a greater degree of emotional awareness when they witness a meltdown, notice our child pacing, or recognize difficulty with making conversation or keeping eye contact.
However, we need to continue to do our part.
At myHana, we are striving to empower parents and children no matter where they stand.
The autism community is beautiful, capable, and should be seen as such.
How are you representing the autism community?
What conversations are you having?
What positive interactions have you had?