As many of you know, April is Autism Acceptance month, and April 2nd is World Autism Day. I can't help but feel that this year, the world is actually getting a bit of a crash course in what many families experience on a regular basis.
Many autistic families regularly experience:
-Difficulty accessing education, forcing families to homeschool whether they want to or not. In France, only 20% of children with autism go to school. Only 1% of those graduate high school.
-Frustration at trying to teach a curriculum at home, without the training and education teachers have.
-A parent needing to either quit their job or work remotely in order to care for the child who does not attend regular school.
-Boredom and behaviour issues from being stuck at home for long periods and not having adequate stimulation from same age peers.
- Long waitlists for services. Many families who are now frustrated that their children cannot attend things like sport or music lessons are frustrated. They may now be able to somewhat imagine what families who are on waitlists for years to receive therapy must go through.
- Judgement when you take your child out in public. I keep reading posts of people getting dirty looks and comments when taking their kids out during the quarantine for some exercise. Many families with autistic children deal with looks and comments every day of their lives.
-Concern for those living alone with disabilities. People with disabilities as well as the elderly have high rates of poverty. Autistic individuals have difficulty accessing employment, and also have difficulty accessing housing, whether independent housing or community style living. Every day.
-Difficulty coping with a change in routine. If you are having difficulty dealing with your new routine, multiply that by 1000% for someone with autism.
-Fear of the future. What happens next? What if you lose your job and can't provide for your kids? Lose your house? Planning for the future in uncertain times is hard. For families of autistic kids, times are always uncertain.
-Isolation. Confinement. Loneliness. People take for granted the ability to go where they want, when they want, and to be around other people as a source of comfort and joy. When children are labeled "different" by society, often feelings of isolation and loneliness are strongest in public, as they watch their children get rejected or judged or worse. They often feel confined to their homes as heading into public can be daunting.
-Disappointment. It sucks to cancel playdates. Birthday parties.You know what else sucks? Never having a playdate. Never getting invited to a birthday party and knowing that no one will attend yours.
I have never been opposed to awareness events like "Light it up blue", but autistic advocates worldwide are saying loud and clear that what they want is inclusion and respect, every day, not just tokens of awareness.