For those of you who know me, you know I have a very select set of passions. Supporting people of color, women’s advocacy, and representing those who can’t always represent themselves, especially members of the Autistic community. With two adult sons on the spectrum, you can count on me supporting my boys year round. A voice often lost in the dark, a voice that continues to seek a platform that will be bigger and badder each year.
I live as an advocate for autism 24/7/ 365; I need a dentist, I need an eye doctor, I need a community. The fact is I need a village for my sons and by doing so I open doors for others. Don’t pity them or me because they’re amazing in spite of the mountains of madness they face daily. The reality is my voice is the one that amplifies them, and a mother’s love will carry them through until I take my last breath, period point blank. With April being Autism Awareness month, it’s automatic to rejoice about the progress and advancements that have been made, but I celebrate my amazing sons year-round. So, be warned I wrote this for the masses.
If you have a connection to the autism community—or even if you don’t—you may have heard that April is Autism Awareness Month, also referred to as World Autism Month. There is no formal designation for this month, but the celebration evolved from the Autism Society of America’s first National Autistic Children’s Week in 1972 and the United Nations’ official observance of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability, and its prevalence has grown rapidly over the last few decades. Today, approximately 1 in every 44 children is diagnosed with autism.1 Boys are 4 times more likely than girls to receive an autism diagnosis.
Autism is a lifelong neurological and developmental disorder that starts in childhood. Social communication and engagement are challenges for people with autism. Behaviors symptomatic of autism range from mild the severe and debilitating. The number of people with autism has risen rapidly over the last 30 years.
- Around 5.4 million people in the US are autistic.
- One in 54 American children is autistic.
- 40% of autistic people are more anxious.
- There is a 13% prevalence of sleep disorder in autistic people.
- Data on autism rates indicates that 7% of children born prematurely are autistic.
- 61% of autistic children present with minimal or no functional speech.
In many places, Autism Awareness Month is a big deal—homes (mine in particular), buildings, and landmarks will glow with blue lights, part of Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign. Donations will be raised, social media posts will be shared, and rallies will be held. It’s a time to both spread awareness of the challenges and celebrate the differences of those affected by autism. But some organizations have called for a change in how we frame this month and their calls have helped to galvanize me.
I wrote a book for my oldest son, Autism and Beyond: A Mother’s Journey of Hope, and it reached record sales. I decided to have it translated into Spanish this year. I’m committed to publishing the story in a new language each year because I want every mother to know hope exists beyond the daily struggles. This isn’t about selling books; trust me I am NOT making money. This is about helping others. I have a BIG heart. I have a voice and I intend to use it.
Thank you for loving, supporting and believing in my boys!!