Its Almost April

Its almost April, and for all its "Autism Awareness Month" but honestly in the last year every day is autism awareness in this house and how blessed I am to walk beside my daughter on her journey. Today my mentor, Jess posted an article that perfectly fit how I was feeling. As I read it and realized some people "celebrate" Autism Awareness Day, I don't celebrate. As I sit her I try to smile through the tears this year has put another perspective on autism that I never imagined would walk into my life.

We are about a year into her diagnosis and my friend Jess always reminds me the first year has the craziest ups and downs. Everything and anything you ever thought you knew about parenting, marriage, relationships and friendships is thrown out the window and you must wipe away and rebuild. You say hello to therapies, diagnosis' and hopefully new friends. You mourn, you laugh, you cry--the ugly cry. You research, you dig into as much as you can to best support your child has all while trying to maintain your marriage, support your other children, maintain a house and oh yeah, some of us have jobs too. I have aged 50 years physically this year and emotionally I feel like I have wisdom far beyond my 37 years. I look at things so differently since officially learning my child has autism. That is it you know, my child has autism. She is not defined by it, its just a part of her just like any other characteristic a child may have. She also has a smile that is infectious, a laugh that causes others to beam ear to ear, strength I could  never muster as well intelligence far beyond my expectations of my 3 year old child.

I have spent the year of this diagnosis mourning the child I lost. Though I did not bury her I had to bury the initial thought of who I dreamed she would be and allow myself to writhe in pain as I sobbed not being able to fix the disability that she was born with. I had to smile as I made phone call after phone call where I was denied therapy because my husband's company didn't deem it necessary. I had to fight with school becoming the bitch parent because I wanted more. I had to smile when my kids were around because I didn't want them to see the pain I felt and eventually I had to let them know I felt the pain because they needed to know the impact this had on all our lives.

As we walk this journey and things change, I have to have hope because if I don't, I won't be able to walk at all.

On April 2, I will wear blue but not because its Autism Awareness Celebration, no I will wear blue for all the people that see children with autism and don't understand. I will wear blue to share more about the fact that our family though strained as grown closer in ways I never expected. I will wear blue to be asked about our journey because in sharing our journey perhaps I can help another mom.

April is not a celebration of autism but an opportunity to become aware. So I am challenging you. If you are a mom afraid of a diagnosis, make April the month you call. If you are a parent needing support for the child you have struggling with autism, reach out to a friend. If you are a friend afraid of the diagnosis or a friend that slipped away because you didn't know what to say when your friend's child was diagnosed, come back. If you support or love someone with autism, choose to speak out, to share our stories, to allow others to glimpse into our lives.

I will not CELEBRATE my daughters disability. I will celebrate HER. I will celebrate the fact that a year ago she didn't speak and now she does. I will celebrate that a year ago when people touched her outside mommy she cringed and now she seeks hugs. I will celebrate that she has learned her colors, some numbers and letters too. I will celebrate that she has begun to engage in parallel play and that she will even interact with others. I will also CELEBRATE my friends children, their gains, their growth. I will celebrate my new friendships as well because through this journey, not only have I seen the best in my kiddos,I have seen the best in some people I never expected to call my friend.

Be aware, be alert and be supportive, autism isn't a day or a month, its forever.

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