April has been designated “Autism Awareness Month”. Throughout the month I’m sure there will be all manner of activities, Facebook posts, tweets, and blog entries about Autism. But I wonder what message the wider world is really getting.
Recently a waitress tried, without success, to interact with Noah. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “He is shy I guess.” I smiled and told her that Noah has Autism and doesn’t really do small talk. Her response was, “Oh, no! I’m so sorry.” By the gaze she was giving Noah during her apology, I inferred that she wasn’t sorry she had misunderstood him, but rather that she was sorry for his Autism.
As difficult as this “disease” is at times, I’m really not sorry for it. Sure, maybe it is just my version of normal and I don’t know any different and, therefore, I’m not sorry. Or maybe, just maybe, autism has given us more than it has ever taken away.
Before you accuse me of looking on the “bright side” of things, don’t. I’m really not a very “positive” or “up beat” person. Actually, I typically prepare for the worst possible scenario. It makes me feel better. I feel more prepared if I imagine the worst outcome and what my response will be. So when I say that I am honestly not sorry for our “condition,” I really mean it.
I suppose I feel strongly that I must somehow contribute this idea to the on-going discussions about living with disabilities. So for the month of April, I’m going to “light it up blue” with a 30 days of celebration. Each day I’m going to write one of the things Autism has given us and made us more human.
Our life isn’t easy…but neither is the life of the neuro-typical individual, or the genius.