Today is the 6th Annual World Autism Awareness Day, and I think that is something to celebrate. Here’s why:
- Because in my experience as a mom, educator and administrator, autism awareness is working! It’s evolving from awareness to acceptance.
- Because of the history of this special day. Recognized in countries across the continent as World Autism Day, The United Nations established this day in 2008 to promote greater understanding about autism, the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
- Because of teachers, T.S.S, therapists and medical professionals devoting their lives to children like my son Ryan. Their tireless dedication and commitment allow children to grow, learn and live to the fullest potential. Every day, but especially today, I celebrate you. Thank you.
- Because of my friends’ support of me and their kindness to Ryan. Several of them receive daily emails from Ryan. He writes to say hi and even with busy personal lives, each one replies to him. When I thank them, they mention how much they enjoy conversations with Ryan.
- For autism advocates, such as Autism Speaks, ASA and ABOARD who give parents hope.
- For researchers working with relentless passion in the pursuit of finding answers for the causes of autism, but also for the best therapeutic approaches and teaching methods for children.
- Because of my siblings Joe, Mary Beth, late sister Joanne their spouses and families. And for Ryan’s cousins, who are patient and treat him with dignity. They reached out and taught their peers about acceptance.
- For parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, extended family and friends who support and love a child with autism
- For every individual who offers a smile, compliment, connection and friendship to a child or adult living with autism.
- Because of the people and organizations in the City of Erie, and those similar to it around the world, who volunteer, advocate and support the local autism community. Thank you for helping to make dreams come true.
Today, on World Autism Day, as buildings around the world are shining a light on autism by Lighting It Up Blue it’s an opportunity to reflect, embrace and celebrate this journey called autism. Our stories may differ in many ways but we are connected on this journey by two paths. First is our love of someone with autism and second is our desire to continue this movement from awareness to acceptance to action.