Sunday, April 06, 2008

Beyond FACTS: Emotional Start to Autism Awareness Month

Some folks who’ve learned from the mass media that April is Autism Awareness Month assert autism has become very trendy these days. Meanwhile parents of children with autism—children who will some day become adults with autism—hope increased awareness will lead to concrete developments in the not-so-far future, developments that will help much more than any new label the general public would like to apply to their loved ones.

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


Blogger Niksmom said...

Thanks for the nod, K! :-) And a couple of new blogs to check out, too.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thanks for the linky love, K :)

Yes, Kristen's post was very poignant. It will be one of my all-time favorites.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Karen, thanks. I'm honored to be in the company of such thoughtful and wonderful bloggers/writers/parents. Yes, you included!

8:16 PM  
Blogger Drama Mama said...

Karen, the honor is all mine. Aren't we a fierce bunch?

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent a bit of time reading "From Here to There and Back." Amazing.

Thanks for the link.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for including me! It made me smile, what an awesome group of women (which of course includes you, too)!

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so honored to be included in this wonderful group of awesome blogging power women!!!

8:56 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Ladies, you are all so very very welcome. I'm a better person because I know you.

Gerry, So glad you enjoyed your time at Kristen's blog. I'm amazed every day by the wonders of certain corners of the blogosphere.

I know I've missed a number of other wonderful blogs by parents with children with special needs and will be lurking about as I seek them out. Feel free to list any you recommend, K.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

What a nice post - thanks for the link! I can't wait to go read some new sites.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Marla said...

Very true. Thank you for the link. We all have so much to learn.

5:31 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

thanks for the mention and, most of all, for your sustaining spirit!

10:18 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

Thanks for the links. Love that. Here's a link to my friends who blog about autism:

2:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What a great post. I have learned so much through reading many of these blogs. The funny thing is that it isn't so much that I learn a lot about autism (although I do). I learn far more about paying attention and being open about things I see that I might not really understand. Whether it involves a mom having a bad moment with an autistic child, someone behaving unexpectedly or just someone having a bad day, my reaction is to wonder why and to give them the benefit of the doubt. I no longer ever assume anything.

10:46 PM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Such great links. It's a wonderful thing to see so many people coming together, comparing notes and finding solutions that work for their children's needs. An Australian friend's child has autism and back when he was first diagnosed, it would have been such a comfort for them to be able to exchange information with other parents going through similar circumstances.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

My I'm behind! The first two weeks of April pretty much did me in, but I'm slowly digging my way out. Thanks to everyone for your comments and to Barrie for the link to another terrific site. Lisa and Tanya, as usual I completely agree with you both! And Kristen, you're more than welcome. Thanks for all you do, ladies!! K.

9:42 PM  

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