Autism Awareness Month -- A Mother's View
To kick off National Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks Georgia State Advocacy Co-Chair, Melissa Solares, shares why this month is so important to her.
Until four years ago, the month of April would come and go without much fanfare for me. I call this “the before,” which is a time when the most exciting event would be Easter dinner and the occasional egg hunt.
Then December 6, 2011 happened.
It was my son’s 4th birthday. All I wanted to do was celebrate and eat some cupcakes. That’s when my sweet little boy was diagnosed with autism. So we had the cupcakes and the balloons and presents, but I didn’t enjoy any of it.
In all the haze of pregnancy jitters, I never once thought there may be a possibility that I may never hear my child call me “Mommy,” never tell me that he loves me or be able to choose between Brussel sprouts and pizza.
But there it hung like the birthday balloons around the room – a reality set in that my son does not speak and may not ever speak.
Even now, thinking about that day still gives me pause. What I realized after his diagnosis was how ill-prepared I was for it. I had read all of the baby books and magazines. I was up-to-date on medical literature and recommendations. We didn’t use a bumper in his crib. I breast fed exclusively. We did not expose him to TV or electronic devices. Despite all of my rigorous research, I had no idea what autism really was or what I could do to help my precious little boy! We went home on his birthday and let him open presents as we sat feeling lost and alone. We had no idea who to call or what to say.
So we got online. We researched. We read. We fumbled through the first six months trying different treatments and providers until we found one that seemed to work. Then my son started making dramatic improvements.
I am so thankful for that treatment and how we were able to mitigate some of the more difficult challenges of autism for my son. I believe very strongly that if someone is in need of resources or support, he or she should have access to it.
Someone once told me that more public awareness about autism is needed to help us garner acceptance, and that is my goal. I will continue to light it up and engage my politicians locally and nationally. I will talk about autism until we have a world that understands neurology can be different for each person. Those differences need to be understood, accepted and supported.
Light it up. Get involved. Change the world.
The entire post can be read in its entirety on the Autism Speaks’ official blog page