The irony of this day and how it has unfolded is not lost on me. It’s the first day of Autism Awareness Month, but all of the things that have been coming up have been weighing on my heart and mind for a while. There are no coincidences.
It started out with my return to a networking event that I use to frequent. I was finally able to attend after many months away and it just so happen that the presenter was a local autism advocate who was speaking on how to turn your passion into a vocation. In recent months, I had been thinking more and more about how my passion for autism advocacy and my passion for writing could somehow meld together and serve a greater purpose. It just so happens that the speaker was a writer and used her passion for it to help others in the autism community. This was a message sent directly to me.
Since I was a teen, my mom has always encouraged me to write a children’s book. There were these little packages you could send away for and you would fill out the information, write your story, and then submit it with the possibly of getting published. It was a long shot, I know, but it seemed really exciting at the time and even then I loved the creative process. I lacked the confidence in myself that was needed to follow through with it back then. I always loved writing and over the years it became something I was pretty decent at. My mom has always been my biggest supporter, encouraging me in my writing and cheering me on to write the book or books I’ve always dreamed about. It only took 25 years or so for me to realize that it’s something I’m more than capable of.
So now the kids and I are going to work on this creative process together and see where it leads us. We’ve been wanting to create something that’s just ours, whether it be a business or some kind of other creative project. It will be great to share their ideas and unique perspectives of this crazy journey our family has been on. Never in a million years did I think that something that has challenged us all so much in the last 5 years and on so many fronts, would light the fire I needed to pursue this dream. Of all things, autism and its lessons are driving me. Pain. It sometimes gives you Purpose.
This afternoon I received some difficult news. It always saddens me to hear about the loss of people’s loved ones or about an illness, but when it comes a bit closer to home, it hits you like a ton of bricks. You’re reminded of how fragile this life is. In the past I wasted a lot of time worrying about our child’s future with autism and how both of our children would fare someday when we’re gone. It’s something I hate to think about, but I’ve become increasingly aware over the years throughout several losses that time isn’t promised. I’ve learned that worrying about the future just robs us of today. Now those concerns have just become something that drives me to live more and live every moment to the fullest. It pushes me to want to do my very best to advocate for her, for autism and for acceptance. It makes me realize it truly is my mission. It has strengthened my faith in their future and has given me the confidence that we are doing our very best to prepare them for this life. Pain. It sometimes fuels your Passion.
So many beautiful things come out of pain and struggle. It’s the hardest part of this life, but we all go through it and eventually we come out on the other side. You always come out changed, but if you can do something positive with what you endure, you can truly make a difference in this life. Maybe it’s just one person that’s impacted, but it’s a difference nonetheless. I won’t pretend that this month of Autism Awareness all across the news channels and social media is not painful for those of us who are acutely aware of it on a daily basis. It’s a lot of reminders when as caregivers, autism is a part of our lives. I choose to see it as an opportunity to help others understand autism better and to promote acceptance of all people. It is a month that is vital for children and adults on the spectrum, but especially for our children, who will one day be grown and possibly on their own. They will still need resources and some kind of support team when they enter adulthood and our world needs to be aware of that so that it can be prepared for what’s to come. That’s why this month we do our best to shine a light on autism, no matter what the color. It’s important for their future and it’s important for the future of our world.
No one wants to deal with any kind of loss, struggle, or heartache. It’s not a cup that any person would willingly take, but you just learn to accept it as part of your journey. As for our kids on the spectrum, we do whatever we have to because we love our children as much as any parent does. We don’t love autism or wish it on our worst enemy, but it’s a part of our kids, so we do our best to give them the best life we can. We have a responsibility to our community and our world to get them everything they need, to share our story, to educate those who are not aware, and to try our best to make a positive impact on their lives. Likewise, our world has a responsibility to learn, accept and make positive changes to support autism and all differences. That’s what these painful reminders are really about.
Pain. Sometimes it’s just pain. Then one day, it creates some beautiful things like peace, understanding and acceptance. It reminds us how much capacity we have for love, especially when there are challenges or loss. It’s really a common thread that binds us all and yet, we sometimes let it separate us because our journeys are so different. We just have to use that pain and those differences to bring us together as a world instead of tearing us apart. So this month think about the pain you’ve faced and what your fellow man may also be enduring. Use that this month to learn acceptance and then teach it. Do it for her, for everyone with autism and for all people. Take your pain… Be passionate. Serve your purpose.
Photo By Courtney Ortiz of