April is National Autism Awareness Month. Families, friends and other supporters will “light it up blue,” during the month of April to bring awareness to autism and its impact on all of us.
Some people say autism awareness is great and all but there isn’t anything the average person can do about it.
I beg to differ.
If you have a loved one with any special needs this advice isn’t new to you. However, you may want to share these tips with more than a few well-meaning people you know. One person really can make a difference.
If you can’t say anything nice, etc., etc.
Comments like “I don’t understand why that kid is crying,” or “they need to do something with that kid,” are unnecessary and can be very hurtful. Your casual observation about a situation you know nothing about can be the salt in a wound of someone barely holding on. How about allowing that frazzled parent to check out ahead of you? Those random acts of kindness are priceless.
Money is good but time is priceless.
Offer to babysit for that parent, especially that single parent who has no one to help them. There is no need to panic fearing they will leave you helpless with their child. An offer of a couple of hours during nap time or in the evening can provide that parent (or grandparent) time to think, get a coffee or effortlessly run to the store. These are things most of us easily do and take for granted.
Everything doesn’t work for everybody. I’ve yet to meet many parents who have left any stone unturned trying to find the best therapy for their child. Most parents are already under a lot of stress. A special needs child can amplify that. Don’t suggest the parent isn’t doing all he or she can possibly do.
Instead of worrying that a child may disrupt your plans for the “perfect”birthday party, think about how inviting that child can be a blessing and a teachable moment for your child, far more valuable than any physical gift.
Many kids with neurological disorders are often excluded from social activities because other parents don’t know what to expect when they arrive. I’ve found through the years children tend to be a lot more accepting than adults.
I challenge you to ask.
Simply asking if a child might enjoy attending lets that family know you are thinking of them. Even if the child can’t attend, parents appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling goes off with other kids.
This is hardly a comprehensive list, but at least a few points to think about.
I’ve learned a lot on this journey with autism. I used to be that lady standing in the grocery line wondering “why is that kid screaming?” Now, I no longer question it and whisper a prayer for grace and mercy instead.
This month, think about what you can do to lighten the load for a family near you!
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NKJV