Speaking For Those That Can’t – World Autism Awareness Day

I never wanted to be an advocate; to be fully transparent, I still am uncomfortable with the thought. 


From the beginning of our journey with autism, our priority was always to protect our children. For me, that meant locking the doors, pulling the blinds, and keeping them away from those who would judge them. Call it an immature reaction, or just call it coping. Either way, as the years passed I grew up and realized that this was not the right response. You learn that the world must see them for who they are, and no matter the result you give them a voice.


Some days I feel relieved that our boys don’t necessarily comprehend society. To them, every day is the same and every person is for their amusement. I almost wish I could live a day where nothing bothered me, and the responsibilities of the world were that simple. This is not to say things are easy but merely different. To them, a crisis is when Tim Hortons is closed, and they can’t continue their daily ritual of people-watching and pastries. To us, it is predicting the next war or pandemic that is around the corner.   


So as World Autism Awareness Day approaches, I choose to reflect. What would my children tell the world about themselves if they could? How would they change things for the better and help society understand their challenges?


We are not martyrs. The world tends to jump on causes these days to make everybody feel better. In the end, my children are not victims, they are different. To them the world is not in black and white, it is filled with vibrant colours. Their emotions are stronger than ours, their senses are more heightened than ours, and their interests are more defined than ours. Material items are useless, as my son’s favourite toy is a lanyard that he can repeatedly flip for hours. They care more about the who, not the how, and people who recognize them for who they are make special bonds with them. They don’t care about autism, so why should we?


Being uncomfortable is a you problem. If you are uncomfortable around my boys, that is a you problem, because they don’t care. Personal space is not a luxury and the chances of you getting the “smell test” from my oldest is rather high. The moral is that they will sense fear and because of that, they will make you a part of their lives whether you like it or not. I remember the day my oldest walked across the waiting area in our doctor’s office and patted the bald man on the head. Reminded him of his uncles, I guess. In the end, they don’t have a filter for your own insecurities, so you better get used to it. 


People matter more. I believe in today’s environment we have replaced relationships with resources. To my children, people are the only thing that matters. They are intrigued by them, they want to be involved with them, and yes, they want to crawl on them. A large amount of the behaviour issues that children with autism have, is them testing people. If they get a rise, game on. If they don’t, this is too boring to continue. The individuals who have remained in our lives through our journey are those who are comfortable with our situation. A meltdown is just another day and if you get smelled when you come through our front door, well welcome to our household.


Most of society doesn’t understand enough about autism to even judge. I never did, so I made my conclusions without ever knowing anything. What I want most to understand on World Autism Day (and everyday) is that we are not here to make you understand, we are not here to tell you that you need to be involved, we are here to give a voice to those who may not be able to. To speak for those that can’t.