APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH AND AUTISM QUEENSLAND HAS LAUNCHED ITS ANNUAL GO BLUE FOR AUTISM CAMPAIGN TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD), A LIFELONG DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY THAT AFFECTS ONE IN 100 AUSTRALIANS.
Internationally, World Autism Awareness Day is observed on the 2nd of April every year and marks the start of Autism Awareness Month in Australia and Go Blue for Autism in Queensland.
Autism now affects approximately one Australian in every 100; more people than cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness, blindness and leukaemia put together.
In Queensland, there are over 10,000 school-aged children living with autism. Autism Queensland delivers state-wide education and therapy services and supports for children and adults with autism and their families from centres in Brisbane, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns.
Not everyone would say that because everyone’s experience of Autism is different but for me, it’s a true statement. Raising a son on the Autism Spectrum has been lots of things – often challenging, sometimes heartbreaking and rarely ‘easy’. It’s been exhausting, disheartening, extremely frustrating. Years of early intervention therapies took so much time and emotional effort, especially when things weren’t working well.
Watching him struggle to achieve things that most of us take for granted as simple is difficult, to say the least and it’s ongoing. But here comes the awesome part… when he does achieve – WOW! The overwhelming joy and pride in his achievements mean so much more BECAUSE of the struggle.
From a small boy who couldn’t talk, melted down constantly, needed help doing the most basic tasks and hated hugs and kisses, he’s grown into a witty, clever, engaging and caring young man who constantly makes people laugh and wants to hug everyone he meets (which is often awkward as they may not feel the same). His charisma and awkwardness combine to make him hilarious and people love him for it. The fact that he has this invisible disability has made him into a quirky, confident and kind human who doesn’t fit into the ‘NORM’ and he is all the better for it. We are ALL the better for it!!!
While it’s been hard at times for my daughters, having a brother who is challenging sometimes and who requires a lot of the time and attention of their parents, it has also taught them to be compassionate humans who have patience, acceptance and empathy BECAUSE they live the life they do. Our son has taught us so much about living your best life and embracing being YOU with all your quirks and differences because he is so good at just being him and he is AWESOME! – Loren Wilson