If you’re a parent or sibling of an individual on the spectrum, or if you’re one of my friends who I made run a 5k for Autism Speaks on a Saturday morning last April (a HUGE accomplishment for college kids), you know that April is Autism Awareness Month. More specifically, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.
This year, Autism Speaks is heading up a campaign to “Light It Up Blue.” The general idea is for prominent buildings across the world to turn their lights blue to raise awareness for autism. I suggest that you do something on World Autism Awareness Day and throughout the month of April too! You don’t have to light up your house blue. Well, you can if you want. But you can do something as small as wearing a puzzle ribbon or wearing blue clothing or buying an awareness magnet for your car or sending the link to this blog to your families and friends :). Anything goes!
The more people know about autism, the better prepared they will be in recognizing individuals who are on the spectrum and accepting them for all their quirks.
That’s all anyone wants really. Acceptance and understanding for who they are.
Alrighty. Enough of the soapbox. Do something for Autism Awareness Month or don’t do something. Your call! In the meantime, I have a very exciting Dude story for you.
Back story #1
I believe I alluded to Dude’s “Alien” on the Meet Dude page. They’re his sound recorders (he uses Alien in the singular even though he refers to both of them) that are always in his possession during non-school hours.
Because of Dude’s.. erm.. compulsive need to press the buttons on his Alien, we go through batteries like a family of ten goes through a loaf of bread. That is to say.. quickly. Therefore, we have for some time kept a battery box in the house and have a constant supply of specialty batteries on hand to replace his various sound toys.
Back story #2
As parents of kids on the spectrum know, our families celebrate the little achievements. For example, many parents would be thrilled to have their kid be valedictorian of his/her graduating class. Parents of a kid with autism may be equally as thrilled (if not more so) when their child initiates a hug or sleeps through the night at age 8.
Dude has always struggled with initiation. He relies very heavily on prompts. He knows how to do many things, but often waits to receive the “ok” from one of us before he does it. Even at the dinner table, he’ll say, “Chocolate milk,” and wait for our response before he takes a sip. We keep telling him he can do it without asking, but he sticks to the comfort of his routine.
Therefore, when Dude initiates anything, it’s kind of a big deal.
Last week, Dude’s Aliens died. Mom had been very busy and had not gotten around to replacing the batteries. One day this week, as she drove him home from school, Dude kept saying insistently, “Batteries. No batteries.” Mom acknowledged that she would put new batteries in once they got home and she made a phone call.
Typically, Dude would keep saying “No batteries. No batteries,” while waiting to get what he wanted. Not on this particular day.
While Mom was on the phone, Dude set his Alien down on the kitchen table and went out to the family room. On the far end of the hearth (not in its usual spot), he located the battery box. He brought the box out to the kitchen and set it on the table in front of Mom. As if that wasn’t enough, he opened the box, picked out the correct packet of batteries (not an easy feat as there are at least 40 snack-sized bags of different batteries in this box), and stood there holding them in front of Mom, impatiently waiting for her to get off the phone.
Most parents would think nothing of this. If anything, they would find the persistence a little annoying. Mom, however, was thrilled!
Small victories, man. Life is all about the small victories.