April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day this year. If you see buildings with blue lights shining on them April 1st and 2nd you'll know why.
There weren't any "Light It Up Blue" (click for events near you!) backgrounds for our blog, but I wanted to participate anyway. I thought I'd just briefly share some of the times that I have been especially aware of autism.
One tiny little moment shines through as a moment in which I was truly aware of autism. We had been visiting Saba and Savta (Hebrew grandma and grandpa) and were on our way home. Avi truly loves them and really enjoyed being cuddled, fed and spoiled. As we walked past the windows of the other apartments in their building I saw an older man open the door and a boy who must have been his grandson come rushing in with all the force of childhood excitement. He ran into his grandpa's open arms and squeezed as tightly as he could. I looked down on the verge of tears realizing that while Avi loves us his expressions of love may never be as exuberant and may never be as obvious. My heart hurt to think of what he and his grandparents were missing. Even thinking about these two strangers locked in an embrace they probably don't even remember is enough to bring me to tears.
I was aware of autism on a hotel shuttle to Disneyland when a mother, angry with her child for being excited and wiggly turned and snarled, "What are you, autistic?!" I was aware then how many moments Avi may be forced to feel different and even bad.
I am aware of autism every time a bagger asks Avi how old he is and looks at me questioningly and then with pity when he pays them no attention whatsoever.
I am aware of autism every time I look at my beautiful son sleeping. When I wonder how, just by closing his eyes, he is so changed. His hands finally calm. He no longer feels the need to flap or finger flick. His silent mouth is silent still, but now it is expected. His closed eyes hide their secret inability to look into anothers. His feet that never stop moving are relaxed. An observer who didn't know him would never guess how he struggles each day.
Finally, I am aware of autism every time I think about the future. Every time I wonder when Avi will be, how he will get along without me and whether our efforts today will make a meaningful difference for him tomorrow. I am aware of autism when I answer the question, "How is he doing?" with a smile instead of with tears.
Thank all of you for being aware with me.