Thursday, April 2
Today is World Autism Day!
And the whole month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. Last night I mentioned this to Paul and he laughed and said "I'm already all too aware of autism, thanks." So yeah, for those of us who live it, maybe it is not so exciting and uplifting. But here is a little tale:, I was hanging a show at The Episcopal Academy a couple of days ago. The work is mostly my Genre of Inclusion project, paintings which include people with disabilities, inspired of course by Henry having "low-functioning" autism. One of the art committee helping hang the fifty (!) pieces turned to me at one point and said apologetically "I really don't know all that much about autism." I was touched by her shy honesty. We autism parents forget that not everybody shares our total immersion in this mysterious condition.
So I think it is a good thing to spread some information around and make a little noise about it. Do I feel like blowing joyful horns and waving exuberant "I LUV AUTISM" banners? Sorry, no. As study after study has found, autism parents have the highest rates of depression and associated troubles of any other group of special needs parents. This condition, in its more pervasive aspects, is incredibly difficult to handle, and because there is no easy way to understand it, there is not much in the way of practical or emotional support for families struggling to cope with its wide-ranging effects.
How about in honor of World Autism Day, be kind to everyone today, okay? The scowling clerk at the checkout, the impatient driver behind you, they could all be carrying some heavy load, the like of which you could not imagine even in your wildest dreams.
For an excellent short but informative piece on What is Autism, click here. And Happy World Autism Day!
Henry in the Kitchen, oil on canvas, 18 x 20 inches