April is Autism Awareness Month and once again, like wildflowers in Texas, you start seeing blue puzzle pieces adorning lapels and Facebook posts sharing news reports giving statistics and asking for money for autism-related non-profits. When April turns to May, the news cycles move on to something else and the coaches put on a different pin and everyone goes back to their routine and give little thought to autism. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. Autism for me is a life sentence. Many people know someone with autism–probably most people, in fact. I would bet that they have wondered how they can help but just don’t know how.
Here are some ideas from someone who has autism:
1. Smile at someone with special needs. They are there on the inside and would love to be acknowledged. I would rather have someone get upset with me than just ignore me.
2. Try your best to have a simple conversation. We want to be able to talk with you, it is just hard. Every effort is appreciated.
3. Give families with autism a break. They are dealing the best they can. If their child acts out in a store or a movie theater, don’t judge them or scowl at them. You don’t understand how hard it is to even go out of the house sometimes. These parents are heroes and deserve help and respect, not scorn.
4. Be willing to pay just a little in taxes to develop the resources for the needs of those affected by autism. We don’t want to be a drain on society but we really can’t survive without support and some of us have too many challenges for our families to handle alone. Currently, resources for young adults with severe autism are sorely lacking and the waiting lists for appropriate help can be decades long. This is not ok. We need your help.
5. Special education needs more teachers and better approaches to recognize the intelligence of the kids that they are serving.
6. If you can, give jobs to people with special needs. It might take us longer to learn but we will be loyal and will always do our best.
7. Give a hug to the siblings of special needs kids. They deal with a lot.
8. Don’t underestimate us. Instead, be creative in finding ways to help us thrive and you will be surprised at what we can do.
9. Be an advocate. If you see someone being treated poorly, stand up for them.
10. Kids with autism are special kids, not just because they have special needs but because they are strong, intelligent, capable and loving. Help them learn that about themselves. It will change their lives and yours.
Charity Betts saysApril 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm
Aaron! This was a tremendously helpful list, your observations are spot on, so many of us have friends with autism and are not sure how to be helpful. Love to hear your thoughts, so glad you’re writing.
Don Jepson saysApril 17, 2019 at 1:34 pm
Aaron, we so much enjoyed your visit last week. I especially enjoy your posts because they teach us so much. Those of us without autism don’t know how to interact with you but now that you are able to tell us it will make both of our lives better. Love, Grandpa.💗
Yee kok wah saysApril 19, 2019 at 4:56 am
Thank you for ur kind sharing. Dr yee fr malaysia
Luciana saysApril 19, 2019 at 7:19 am
Aron, this is a great list! I read your dad’s book many years ago, so in a way I met you as a little boy. I am so happy you turned into this smart and very handsome young man. My son had and still has health problems (PANDAS/PANS, ADHD, allergies and one leg shorter than the other). He is a passionate musician, and like you, with hard work is making a difference in this world.