Awareness is not enough. Every child on the autism spectrum has strengths and challenges and is a special part of the human family. With awareness come responsibilities and possibilities. On Sunday, April 13, the "Guy Talk" panel at www.autismbrainstorm.org discussed what acceptance means from the mildest to the most severe individual. You can hear that conversation on YouTube.
Self-advocate Dr. Stephen Shore talked about what autism meant to him in grade school when he was different from his classmates. In college he thought that autism was in the past. However by the time he was in graduate school he realized that autism was still affecting him.
Stephen sees it as a normal phase when young people say, "I don't have autism anymore." Today as a professor of special education, Stephen realizes he has a different and nonstandard way of perceiving the environment. He described himself as "low functioning in a noisy bar."
Comedian Mike Guido has an adult daughter with severe autism. He has a Kickstarter Campaign to film his one man show "A Real Man - Dad. Daughter. Autism." Mike will make the DVD free of charge.
Mike described Maria as a blessing to the family. She is immune to gossip, jealousy, meanness, and things that make the rest of us unhappy, anxious, and stressed.. She is happy all the time. People like to be around happy people, and her attitude makes Mike and others appreciate Maria just as she is.
Kaveh Adel, a dentist by profession, has two sons with autism. Now that he understands his sons' conditions, he is able to accept them and empower them in a continuing process to pursue what they want. Watching his son dance and sing, he sees him as a wonderful human being. Kaveh has conveyed his thoughts about awareness and acceptance at the individual level as a cartoonist on his recent blog, "Lit up Blue."
For Mark Walker, accepting his daughter took time. Today it means keeping her safe, for the minute he turns away in the playground she may be gone. Mark has founded "Dance with my Daddy," a yearly event where a growing number of fathers of children with special needs dance and celebrate with their children.
Social worker and parent Brian King, a self-advocate with ASD and ADHD, talked about what it means for him to have autism and how telling your story creates more awareness and acceptance on the individual level. He talked about how acceptance changes and that loving someone helps to get past the questions that often haunt people such as why me? That love results in "Joy just as they are."
The group concluded that loving our children as they are while working on their challenges makes us happy. That love brings us closer and brings more happiness, as we celebrate what we can do together.*****************
Join us this Sunday, May 4, at 9:00 PM EDT, as we discuss our appreciation for women on "Guy Talk" at www.autismbrainstorm.org with special contributor James May, the former director of the National Fathers Network.
Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness Conference
I am happy to be speaking at this unique conference in line with my blog above sponsored by Dragon Fly Forest on Saturday, May 17 in West Chester, PA. Download the information by clicking here.