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April 1, 2009

Autism: Not only “Made in the USA”

There’s World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month, but for those of us living with autism, raising awareness is an every day thing.

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As the number of children being diagnosed with autism continues to rise so will the need to raise awareness.

Autism is not just a disorder that affects only American children.   Autism is global!

There are approximately 67 million people living with autism today, and this number only includes those who have received an official diagnosis.

I’ve had many conversations over the past 4 years.  Some with other parents of children on the spectrum. Others with parents of NT (neuro-typical) children.  However, one conversation sticks out more than the others.

On March 14th, I had a book signing at Borders on 21st.  Like so many before, a young woman stopped to talk with me.  Once she realized the subject matter on my book, she spoke the following words,

I’m afraid to have children because of the autism.

Yes, she actually said this to my face, and I wasn’t alone when she said it.  There was another mom-friend visiting with me.

We were both a bit taken aback by the statement then realized that this doorway had been opened so we could better educate this woman.  It was obvious that her view on the matter was a bit skewed.  Then again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Like so many, she sees autism as a “bad thing”.

To say that you will not have children because you’re afraid they’ll “get” autism is like saying you won’t eat apples because you read somewhere that they’ll make you fat.

Silly, isn’t it?

It isn’t as if I didn’t give birth to a healthy baby boy because I did.  He has all his parts, so to speak.  The only “difference” is his brain is wired differently and because of this wiring difference he only sees the joy in things.  Last I checked that wasn’t exactly a “bad thing”.

So, why pick on autism?

Perhaps, people are “on edge” because unlike the countless other “different abilities” out there, autism has become a household name.  Much like American Idol® and America’s Next Top Model®.

But is this any reason to run with your hair in flames, screaming about how you’re gonna go off and live in a bubble?

I mean, c’mon.  When did autism become “contagious” anyway?

There are many contributing factors that need to be considered when it comes to whether or not someone will “get” a disability or not.

There are also too many variables as to why one child is affected by autism while another is not.  If vaccines were the only cause, wouldn’t every child then have autism?

People need to better educate themselves, and stop living a life of fear.  Autism is not a curse.

Autism, like other “different abilities”, should be seen as a learning opportunity.  I’ve learned a lot about myself since my son’s diagnosis, and I’ve also learned a lot about him.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to not take the little things for granted for it is the little things that have offered the greatest lessons and have meant the most to me.

Please show your support by helping me raise awareness.  Click here to learn how.  Thank you!

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