April is Autism Awareness Month. In Colorado on vacation, I saw a sign in the window of a wine shop promoting Montrose's inaugural Autism Walk. Pretty cool.
For those who find this blog and don't know much about autism, please visit Autism Speaks for good information on its signs, symptoms, and treatment. Also, read the comments on this blog. You'll learn a lot from the stories parents have shared here about the challenges and frustrations they endure every day.
The next time you see a child melting down in public, don't assume it's the result of bad parenting. The child may well be autistic. That parent needs your support and positive thoughts, not a judgmental frown or caustic comment.
The next time you see a child sitting at the playground running sand between his fingers for 30 minutes, don't assume he's being ignored by his parent. He probably needs a break, and the parent is giving it to him.
The next time you invite your child's classmates to a birthday party, remember that the kid in the class with autism might want to come, too.
The next time friends tell you that their son or daughter has autism, don't say, "I don't see anything wrong!" Instead, ask questions. Learn something new. Don't judge.
The next time you see a child with autism, say hello and smile, and don't feel hurt or insulted when he or she ignores you. Just keep smiling. The child notices, even if you don't think so.
The next time you meet a child with autism, don't assume he or she is just like your neighbor's child with autism. All people with autism are unique...just like all people without autism are unique.