Today is World Autism Awareness day. I always knew April was Autism Awareness month, but found out about April 2nd being the designated day for the same only last week. If you’re interested to know more, go to their website.
At a dinner party I was at a few days ago, the hosts and a couple of guests had absolutely no idea or concept of what autism was. It seems they asked my mother whether my brother just had to take a few pills to ‘become alright’.
I have no problem with people asking questions about autism; in fact, I encourage it. The way I see it, if you don’t know what autism is, ask and we’ll help you understand. As someone who deals with autism, I know that I’d rather you asked me if you had any questions rather than assume nonsense on your own steam.
However, it sometimes amazes me that in this day and age, people still think that something like autism can be ‘cured’ by popping a few pills (don’t even get me started on the usage of the word ‘cure’ in this context – I’d rant for hours at end).
Just a small glimpse of some of my realities of autism, both good and not-so-good:
- Cleaning my 14-year-old brother after he’s finished using the toilet because he can’t do it himself.
- Having him hug me in such a way that I’m left gasping for breath and with a silly grin on my face.
- Making him wear incontinence diapers every night because he still doesn’t realize he can get up and just use the toilet if he needs to at night.
- Watching him try to wear his trousers incorrectly, as he tries to stuff both legs into one leg of the trouser.
- Having a little celebration when he finally understood, a year ago, how to drink water from a glass.
- Staring at uncovered lightbulbs on the ceiling of my living room because he shattered the glass cover for the third time by bouncing a ball with extreme force smack into the middle of it.
- Crying like a person possessed when a truck hit my car from the rear and shattered the glass. My brother was in the back seat (he was miraculously unhurt).
- Webcamming with him when I’m in Sheffield only to watch his amazed face as he sees his sister appear on a flat screen.
- Letting him apply sloppy kisses all over my face when I come back to Dubai on a vacation.
- Shooting dirty looks and/or stopping mid-track to ask people what their problem is if they stare, point and/or whisper when my brother is upset or crying.
I’ve read somewhere that if you’ve met one autistic person…you’ve met ONE autistic person. Each person who is autistic is different; this is not a ‘one size fits all’ special needs. My brother is unique. I love him … and he loves me too. And I don’t need him to talk to tell me that.
I like this quote which I saw on this forum by the user ShaggyDaddy:
Since I don’t really know anyone who is “normal” I am pretty frightened by the prospect of trying to teach my son to be normal.