Today people across the United States and in parts of the world will wear blue clothes and wrist bands to recognize the health crisis of autism in the world.
The Washington Post carried an article today that suggests the very real world of autism from a mom of three autistic daughters. Kim Stagliano reminds us of, perhaps the all too real world of raising an autistic child, but a reminder maybe most appropriate during Autism Awareness Month.
Ms. Stagliano sets forth the real world in which she and her children live:
“I dread April, which has been designated as Autism Awareness Month. As mom to three young women with autism – ages 20, 18 and 14 – I eat, sleep and live autism every day. My youngest daughter, Bella, can’t speak a word and was abused on a school bus, leading to a criminal case. My oldest, Mia, had hundreds of grand mal seizures a year from ages 6 to 10. My middle child is wracked with anxiety. For all three, I have to cut their food, tend to their monthly feminine needs, and bathe them. They will need that daily living assistance forever; when I die, a stranger will have to do those things for them. That is why I bristle at the festive tone of April, the suggestion that the circumstances of my daughters’ existences are to be celebrated. For me, this should be a month of solemn acknowledgement and education about a global crisis.”
Another really great site for autism information and a site that provides a full understanding of the affliction, treatment and management of autism is “Everything You have to Know about Autism” at The Babble Out.
Remember that autistic children are still ostracized by their peers and, sometimes, victimized by their peers. Sadly, autistic children often face futures that are more than just blue:
“These children also face horrific bullying and teasing. For instance, an Ohio high school student with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism, was the victim of an Ice Bucket Challenge “prank” (really, an assault) last year when three teens dumped a mixture of urine, tobacco and spit on his head. Even after high school, young adults with autism face a bleak quality of life, with lower employment rates than those with other disabilities. One study found that just 35 percent of autistic young adults had attended college and just 55 percent had been employed during their first six years after high school.”
What Ms. Stagliano legitimately questions is:
“But illuminating the Eiffel Tower in blue does more to promote an organization than to improve the lives of autistic people and their caretakers. Celebrating talents does little to educate the public on the intense challenges of the diagnosis and the tough aspects of living with the disability. What the autism community needs isn’t a party, but a sense of urgency and true crisis. They need advocates committed not only to getting them the acceptance they deserve, but also the critical help they require to survive, in the form of social programs, education, safety and employment opportunities.”
Ms. Stagliano, a mom of three autistic girls suggests rather:
- Make a donation to a local organization actively helping families with autistic children.
- Give to an organization that provides service dogs.
- Volunteer as an Autism Buddy.
- If you know a family with an autistic child, invite that child to the next birthday party.
So, although recognizing and supporting Autism Awareness Month by wearing blue is one component to helping these kids, enthusiastically taking action against autism may be the real key.
Bless all the Kim Stagtlianos and their children for their daily fight.