This week marks the beginning of the 2012 National Autism Awareness Month. Awareness month has been celebrated in the month of April for over 30 years. As a parent of a child with autism, I am so thankful to Autism Society, Autism Speaks, and all the organizations and individuals who have used the month of April to raise acceptance and awareness nationally, and throughout the world.
However, as I watch my Twitter feed, filled with the comments of parents with autism, I worry about the parents who have a young child with autism. I ask myself these questions:
- Are these parents concentrating too much on what causes autism, and not focusing enough on helping their child realize their best outcome?
- Are these parents spending too much time advocating for autism, and not enough time on the individual needs of their child?
- Are these parents looking for the government, or a nonprofit organization to help their child, instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing the parenting work their child needs?
In today’s world of social media networks, and the 24/7 news cycle, it is easy to burn up energy researching the causes of autism, or trying to make those not touched by autism aware of our struggle. I am not saying parents should not be supporting Autism Awareness month, but throughout the year, it is important to cut out as many distractions from focusing on your child as possible.
Parents only have so much energy to spend, and there is no quick answer or immediate solution to autism. Eventually your child will become an autistic adult, and what you do as he/she grows up, will directly affect how much independence your child is able to achieve. Every minute you spend providing interventions and services for your child is critical for their development. By believing in your day to day efforts, you will change your child’s life, and in the process experience a joy greater than words can describe.