I recently stumbled upon the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag here on WordPress and loved the idea. So today I am posting this, my first Weekend Coffee Share post. I hope you enjoy the read!
If we were having coffee I would invite you to sit at my family dining table amidst the lego pieces, homework folders and other paraphernalia that is family life. I would offer you a coffee (or tea if you prefer) and bring it to you in one of my beloved Emma Bridgewater mugs. I would chat to you about what’s on my mind and this is what I would say:-
This week I have spent a lot of time reading articles online about autism. It’s great that this month (April is Autism Awareness Month) the internet is flooded with articles, information, and conversations about autism. All of it helps to promote awareness and get people talking about the condition.
As a mother of an autistic child, I’m really passionate about trying to do my bit in helping others understand autism and to do some myth busting along the way. Normally I approach this with enthusiasm, but this week I have been struggling with a bout of hopelessness for two reasons.
Firstly, amongst all the great information, I also read a lot of things about autism that make me angry, upset and despair. Some of it is just plain ignorance but a lot of it stems from a sector of the autism community that has a fundamentally different attitude towards autism than mine.*
This week I have been feeling very much that, let’s face it, I’m only one woman with one voice. How on earth could I possibly think that anything I add to the autism debate is going to make any difference? How can I, as an individual, help to change attitudes?
Secondly, I realise that I have a mountain to climb in teaching other people what autism really is. How can I expect to teach other people in a straightforward and concise way what it took me years of research and first hand experience of to understand?
Autism is complex and multifaceted. It’s a spectrum condition with each and every individual on that spectrum occupying their own unique position within it.
When my own child was first diagnosed with autism I knew virtually nothing about it. In my head all I could think was ‘does this mean my child is going to be some kind of Rain Man type genius or does it mean that he will never have proper speech and will sit on the floor rocking back and forth all day?’ My thoughts at the time represent, I think, the two main stereotypes of what autism is.
Of course, my son isn’t either of those stereotypes and now, more than ten years further down the line, I understand in great detail what autism really is.
But back to the task ahead of me, how do I help pass on all this knowledge and understanding that I now have of autism? How do I help society be aware that a little understanding can go a long way in making a difference? And how do I help to bust the autism myths and spread the facts?
I guess, as with most things in life, the only way to climb the mountain is one step at a time. Whilst I can’t get my message across to the whole world, I can at least try to reach out to the family, friends and online followers in my own world and hope that, if only in a small way, I can make a difference.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. #weekendcoffeeshare is hosted by http://www.parttimemonster.com
Unfortunately I still haven’t entirely mastered the more technical side of blogging and so can’t embed links or use pingbacks etc! But you can link up your own coffee posts or read others via the link button on the above blog or use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on WordPress, Facebook and Twitter.
* For the record:
– I DON’T believe that autism is a disease, a disorder or an epidemic
– I DON’T believe it is caused by vaccines
– I DON’T believe that autism needs to be ‘cured’
– I DO believe that autism has a predominately neurobiological and genetic basis
– I DO support neurodiversity and the belief that autism is simply a non-typical neurotype but no less valid than any other
– I DO believe that society can only benefit from the different perspectives on the world and creative approaches to life that the autistic brain offers