The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day – April 2, 2015.
Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. While I appreciate the many efforts of these wonderful organizations, I wonder if there will ever come a time in which society will go beyond awareness and acceptance; if there could ever be a time in which autism is not just endured through a month of public service announcements, but rather be celebrated.
Society in general could take a lesson or two from the kids our spectrum boy spends his days. These kids not only accept Ben for who he is, they embrace him as part of their world, perhaps because for as long as most of them can remember, he has been their peer. They have shared teachers, toys, and snacks since preschool. They include him in their class activities, and even push him outside his comfort zone to take his turn at being the team leader.
These kids are not without their faults. They are not perfect, but no one expects them to be, and in turn they don’t expect perfection from each other. Instead, they expect good effort and teamwork. They expect leadership from their peers and they give it when it is their turn to lead. And they include our boy in it all. What more could we hope for as parents?
So, on this eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day, I celebrate Ben and his classmates for the amazing world they help to create for him not because of his autism, not in spite of his autism, but because that is what they do. That is what we as a society should be doing – not singling out, but including in all the aspects of our lives. And just like every other night of the year, I thank our creator for the privilege of raising this boy He chose to share with us. I thank Him for Ben’s classmates, and for their parents who have obviously modeled this way of living and loving.