Beyond FACTS: Emotional Start to Autism Awareness Month
I learn something new every day on Kristina Chew’s Autism Vox blog. Kristina offers an intriguing mix of personal stories about her son, Charlie, as well as professional takes on current developments in the growing (and often confusing) network of autism organizations. Kristina lays it all out, states her stand, and ties it all back to life with Charlie. This recent post “Not a Fairy Tale and Not a Tragedy” includes references to a ton of terrific resources, including an April 2 World Autism Day speech by Ari Ne’eman, a college student and president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. You read that right: Self-Advocacy. In his address, Ne’eman confronted the widely held assumption that a diagnosis of any form of autism is tragic:
“The true tragedy is the persistent discrimination, abuse and lack of access that continues to govern society’s approach to us. On this, the first ever World Autism Day, we assert that it is this prejudice—not autism itself—that we have a true interest in combating, in the interest of ensuring for every person the rights of communication, inclusion, self-determination and respect.”
Many, many thanks to Kristina for her tireless and forthcoming writings on the people at the forefront of the drive for increased autism awareness. This issue deserves all the attention it’s getting, as do the folks spearheading the drive.
Another prolific blogger, Kristen at From Here to There and Back, shares insights that don’t include professional analyses of current trends but knock me over with their blunt honesty and emotional intensity. Her recent post, “All I Have to Say” is one of my favorites. What Kristen questions…the reality behind all the hoopla of world awareness days or months…reveals what’s most important to her and what ought to be most important to all of us: “changing the way we think, changing our fundamental approach to respect and acceptance and differences.” Kristen is another mom-writer who reminds me of the critical need to raise awareness of diversity and tolerance issues despite so many questions about where it all leads and what it all truly means, despite so many reservations. Kristen closes her post with what she truly knows, the fact that she’s mom to a wonderful boy who’s impacted and changed her life in wondrous ways.
Other moms of kids with special needs whose blogs teach me more than they’ll ever know, regardless of what the world’s celebrating: Jen, Jodie, Drama Mama, Niksmom, Jennifer, Pam, Vicki, Susan, Kyra, Jenn, Marla, MOM-NOS, Gayle, and Michelle (to name just a few!). Kudos and thanks to you all, ladies. You amaze me every day, all year long.
Beloved photo from From Here to There and Back