I never really understood "Awareness" days. I used to think that it was pretty obvious that we were all aware of breast cancer, other cancers or anything else that we were "being aware" of. Today I understand.
Autism Awareness Day is Jacob's day. It's everyone with autism's day. It's a day that they have a voice without even saying a word. It's a day that everyone can come together and say "I know someone with autism and they are awesome." It's a celebration!
It's also a day that others can become aware of the disorder. I hope that some will learn about the disorder and realize that these kids are bright, intelligent and really fun if you get to know them. They are all different just like typical kids and each one of them has their own personality. They may love and learn in a different way but they still love and learn. The main thing that I want people to learn is that they react different to discipline than typical kids. So everyone may think that Jacob is just a brat when he's having a tantrum but that's the only way he knows to tell us that he's having anxiety about something. He will learn with time, you just have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
It's also a day to help others recognize the struggles that coincide with autism. Some just don't understand the day to day struggles and annoyances. For instance, I bet no one knew that for the first hour of our vacation (going and coming) Jacob asked repeatedly (I mean constantly) if we were going straight. FYI the answer to this question is always "yes" or you will have a meltdown. No, I don't understand why he asks this or why he has problems not going straight but he does, and we've figured out how to skirt around the issue. Just like most issues.
I also have to take food for Jacob everywhere I go. I can't just hop in the car and go to lunch, church or just wherever. Not only is he on a special diet but he doesn't eat anything. He only likes crunchy snack type food. I know some of you are thinking that if I don't take anything and he's hungry enough then he'll eat, not true. He gags on most everything. It's taken us almost a year to get him used to just eating apple without gagging. Will this texture issue with food go away? I really hope so!!
Did you know that Jacob takes at least 7 medicines a day? It's a mixture of vitamin supplements and prescription meds. I know that some of you are looking at the medicine list going "holy crap that's terrible." But you don't even know the half of it. It used to take 3 adults holding him down to force the medicine in his mouth. By the end of the medicine fiasco (morning and night I might add) I was in tears.
I could bore you with many many more stories of how day to day life is with Jacob. I just don't think that people realize the small things. Yes, there are the biggies like education, social life and health but the day to day struggles are what really beat you down the most. It's a way of life, it's not just something we struggle with every now and then. So please raise awareness, but most of all teach your family, friends and children about acceptance. Yes, Jacob is different from everyone else but he has so much to offer!!