Of all the posts I write each year, this one is always the hardest. I stare at the screen and memories flood back. The emotion rolls up my spine and across my heart as a lump forms in my throat. It doesn’t take long for the familiar questions to rush past my lips.
Why her? Was it something I ate while I was pregnant? Was it something that happened during delivery? What did I do so terribly wrong that my wonderful, loving God would choose to punish my child?
Why? What? How?
When will this end? Will it end? Will she have a normal life? Will she ever have friends? Will she ever know that she doesn’t have friends?
I cannot explain the overwhelming emotion that I feel even now as my husband reaches over to cup my knee, reassuring me although he does not completely understand my pain.
But if you are the mother of a child living with an Autism diagnosis… you know.
Why is it that this pain – even seven years later – is as fresh as the morning dew? I think primarily the pain lingers because of the lack of awareness in the world regarding children with Autism. The word carries such a negative stigma, a great mystery that people would choose to just ignore than try to understand. But as the number of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder rises each year, there has to come a time when someone pays attention.
Until then, YOU can make a difference. Yes, YOU… the person who is reading this and doesn’t personally have a child with ASD or Aspergers but you know someone who does.
Can I share with you one of the biggest pieces of my pain?
This day, World Autism Awareness Day, is incredibly difficult for me because not only does it remind me of the struggle that brought us to a diagnosis or the shock of actually placing a label on my child… No. This day is a marker in my year when I realize that another 365 days have passed…
… without a single invitation to a birthday party.
… without a “best friend” to sleep over.
… without having my child ask to call someone on the phone.
… without seeing someone her age greet her at church to give her a hug or ask her to sit together.
There are no friends who will look beyond that ugly label and see the sweet, caring child. The precious heart that is so easily confused. The mind that races with anticipation. The smile… oh, the smile… of a child so enraptured by fantasy and ready to share stories of her life with imaginary friends.
Be a friend to this child today. Include this child and his or her family in your prayers. Remember to invite this child to your home for play dates. Look beyond the mystery and find the person. Celebrate what we sometimes cannot because we are stifled by the mystery that we live each day.
Light it up blue for World Autism Awareness Day and give us your support.