By Jennifer Dunn
World Autism Awareness Month is here. I am always torn during this month. Yes, I am pleased awareness is being brought to our kids but for so many it is not a day or month. Our children are Autistic all year round. Autism doesn’t just affect one person. It affects the entire family. And there is so much focus now on are they autistic or do they have autism. Some don’t like it being called a disorder. In the medical dictionary it is described: autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. So why the big divide?
I suppose I can’t speak fully to this as I do not have autism, or I am not autistic however you prefer it to be referred to. But I do have a daughter that is autistic and let me tell you it affects me very deeply. I used to be the puzzle piece blue shirt wearing mom. Now some prefer the infinity symbol. I say whatever makes you happy is all that matters. I used to celebrate this day, month. Now I celebrate it very differently in my heart. I’ll explain. I have watched my daughter fight for everything. Every bite of food and every word spoken. Did you know Kya didn’t speak until she was five? Over the years my daughter’s Autism has changed. We have been on what I can only describe as one heck of a rollercoaster and at every turn this kid has blown my mind. She is a fighter. She is the strongest human I have ever met. So instead of focusing on the words, let's focus as a community on how to support our kids. Let’s focus on their hard work and determination. When we began this journey, I called it the A word. I could not say Autism. It scared me. I didn’t understand it and I was terrified for my daughter. But you see Autism isn’t scary. Sure, aspects of it are but it is woven through my daughter. Autism is a part of her but it does not define her. So, on April 2nd I will celebrate my daughter like I do every day, I will tell her how incredibly proud of her I am and maybe that day we will celebrate just a little bit more. On We Go. #Autism https://instagram.com/keepingupwith_kya?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= https://www.facebook.com/keepingupwithkya