In Honor of Autism Awareness Month

I just don’t post on here very often…I have lots of irons in the fire, so to speak. But I kind of like that there is this big push to be aware of Autism in April. Obviously, our family is pretty much always aware of Autism.

I’ve been pondering awareness. We were at a local Eyemart, and the staff did a great job of accommodating Tessa in spite of, or because of, her meltdown status. She was approaching one fast.

As I was checking out, I got brave, and asked the guy if he had anyone in his family with Autism. He shook his head no, but the guy standing next to him said his cousin had it. I glibly noted the national and state statistics and the conversation stalled out about that point. (National 1 in 110, Indiana 1 in 88)

I got to thinking, what does Awareness mean? To a family struggling and striving with Autism every single day with no breaks, I think Awareness means other people opening their eyes to not just the existence of people on the Spectrum, but being aware that families touched by Autism are struggling and striving with it every single day with no breaks.

When a store or restaurant goes out of their way to serve a family who has a member with Autism, it speaks volumes to everyone…it says something like, We notice you, we acknowledge your battle and we want to help you out today. That is the kind of Awareness I would like to see. Note the story about Chili’s doing their best to help out a customer with Autism.

I’ve been thinking about taking Tessa out more frequently this month…trips we would normally not make with her to avoid meltdowns. I have this notion that maybe with all the Awareness floating around, maybe we’ll have slightly less embarrassing episodes in public. Not that the episodes will be fewer, but that we won’t feel as embarrassed because people will have their eyes open to the disorder.

Whatever our experiences are in public, in private our family has learned to cope the best we can. We cling to the hilarious moments and breathe deep through the hectic ones. I can say with 100% certainty that our family wouldn’t be complete without Tessa in it, and dare I say…wouldn’t be as happy without Autism.

If you would like to read more essays about our family’s experiences with Autism, check out my collection on Amazon Kindle. “Looking for Joy: Insights from One Family’s Autism Journey in Essay Form” by V. L. Holt It will be FREE for a few days starting April 5th.

Getting on the Bus

Tessa had a new bus come pick her up this morning to go to a new school. She gets to attend summer school this month, but it does make Mom pretty nervous. New people, new bus, new school, new classroom, new teachers…I worry about the transition for someone who doesn’t handle change very well.

But, I should know by now that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, or according to status quo…Tessa waved and gave me the biggest smile from the bus window today. It’s almost as if the bus components were more important than who the driver or the helper were, and since there was a seatbelt, and the same color vinyl seats, and the same noises that buses make, it was going to be all right. Three cheers for brave Tessa. I can hardly wait to hear all about her school day, which probably go something like this: “What did you do at school today?” “Work.”

Playing with Little Brother

Tessa and little brother like to pretend they are riding the bus to school. They start the bus with a key. Sometimes they sing the song, “The Wheels on the Bus” and then they ride to school. When they get to school, they get off the bus with their back packs. It is fun to pretend to ride the bus.

These are the Wheels on the Bus!

Dressing for a Snowy Day

Tessa was happy to wear boots, gloves and her snow hat on the first day of snow.

She smiles for the camera

When the New Baby is Born

Okay, this was two years ago, but hey…why not? Bringing baby home can be very stressful for someone on the spectrum.

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Going to the Baseball Game

Tessa loves going to the baseball game. There is pop, and games, and bleachers. We got to go with Grandpa and Aunt and Uncle and cousins one time. Even though it was loud, Tessa had fun when we sat down to watch the game. She likes playing on the bleachers.

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