I hope you are all well. I am writing just a brief post to remind everyone that Autism Awareness Month is fast approaching and will start April 1st, lasting until April 30th. Be sure to check out your local community resources for events and educational opportunities to learn and connect with other individuals with autism and their families. During Autism Awareness Month, numerous media and news outlets will be running specials on different topics relating to autism. I will be speaking about an important topic for many individuals with autism: dating and relationships. I will be discussing some commonly held myths about autism and dating, difficulties faced by individuals with autism forming relationships, how families can support their efforts, and resources for individuals looking to meet other individuals with autism. The segment will be featured on Great Day Washington D.C. on CBS WUSA9, at 9:00 AM, on April 6th. I hope you can watch!
I think it is also very important to mention that while Autism Awareness Month is designed to create greater understanding and facilitate exposure to autism, there is often an associated tendency to get caught up in the rallies, events, fashion, and "hype" of the celebration atmosphere that inadvertently occurs whenever you are "celebrating" autism and what has been accomplished by organizations on behalf of the community. I believe what these organizations are doing is really great, yet it is critical to remember that there are many, many challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families on a daily basis that exist beyond Autism Awareness Month. Unfortunately, celebratory atmospheres and teaching about autism as a triumph over adversity, while a big part of the picture, does not address the adversity still faced on a daily basis. Being able to stand up to bullies or use your unique skills to create a means for you to meet individuals and make friends does not negate that there are still behavior, mental health, emotional, and financial/care concerns that go into taking care of someone with autism. Those aspects need attention just as much as the successes for unless we understand the whole picture and are aware of the difficulties, then the development of social programs and resources will only be partially complete. I encourage you to definitely celebrate your child's and others' successes. Please also remember to educate those you know and the community about the difficulties of having autism and parenting someone with autism. Give to local organizations providing direct services to individuals with autism in your community, and reach out to local organizations and institutions, especially doctors, schools, and first responders to teach them about the difficult aspects of autism so they can help you when your child is in difficulty effectively and safely. Thank you!