Photo Credit: Institute of Living

Throughout the year there are a plethora of diverse days, weeks, and months ranging from National Hot Chocolate Day (January 31st) to Women’s History Month (March) to Workzone Awareness Week (April 15-19). However, the month of April has a special place in my heart as it is Autism Acceptance Month – more specifically, April 2 is World Autism Acceptance Day.

Three years ago, my son was officially diagnosed as neurodiverse. There is something to be said about a label, especially when you don’t know what it means. You become Dr. Google and the start to feel guilt that maybe it’s genetic, or maybe you’re at fault. You fall down a rabbit hole, and it leads into various paths and twists full of emotion and angst.

According to The Autism Society of America, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, ability to communicate, ability to form and maintain relationships, and behavioral self-regulation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimate one in 36 children is diagnosed with autism and boys are four times as likely to be identified with autism*[2].

Not everyone’s autism journey is the same, but all caregivers struggle with the juggling of numerous appointments (physical therapy, feeding, speech, etc.), insurance wrangling for needed tools and specialist visits, education support, and frankly, burnout. There are days when I am quite simply …. exhausted. But then there are days when the stars align, and he will try a new food or a new experience and his wins become my wins.

Autism acceptance is more than the disability access [3]service offered by Disney, but rather the inclusion of individuals in various activities. It is a sensory area at airports and providing the tools needed for autistic adults to lean into their strengths.

The world would be a dimmer place without amazing neurodiverse individuals like my son. I aim to provide him with the tools that lean into his strengths so that not only will he be able to advocate for himself but he will rock.