Autism Awareness, Pet Ferrets, and Peanut Butter

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So apparently it’s Autism Awareness Day and, well, I was not aware until it started popping up everywhere. 

I suppose it’s cool this day exists. I did my research and learned it is also National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day as well as National Ferret Day. So, yea. Not quite sure what we are supposed to do with these Days, but it seems perhaps I can do my part on this national day and help you become more aware of this autism thing.

Here is a list of great things to be aware of:

  • Be aware folks with autism can understand what you are saying, even if they can not communicate. Receptive language is usually there, just not expressive. So don’t say what can be perceived as degrading in front of them or treat them like they are dumb, mmmkay?

  • Be aware folks with autism have sensory issues and can freak out in an instant because it’s super annoying to have sensory issues. A sensory issue means one or all of their 5 senses are jacked up at any given moment. That’s why you may see them doing things that the autism world calls “self-regulating/stemming” such as flapping, covering their ears, chewing things, etc. It’s all a part of trying to get their senses feeling normal again. Unfortunately, it may cause them to not be able to enjoy Peanut Butter & Jelly Day bc they can’t handle the way it feels in their mouth. Bummer.

  • Be aware folks with autism want to engage with you or can benefit from engaging with you, but have a very hard time figuring out how. Since you don’t struggle in this area, take the lead even if you fumble through it.

  • Be aware folks with autism tend to obsess over things. They will want to talk about and do the same things over and over and over. A plus if you are wanting to engage with them because, well, it’s pretty easy to know what they want to talk about or do! It’s also okay to try to divert them to new things when you fatigue. Totally fine. Don’t worry about it! It’s good for them.

  • Be aware folks with autism find really amazing things you and I are missing. If you see them staring at something take the time to check it out, too. It’s usually pretty cool like a leaf in the wind or a raindrop on the window. You won’t be sorry if you enter their world from time to time instead of trying to bring them into ours.

Here are a few things to be aware of regarding the caregivers of autistic folks:

  • Be aware we are all insanely witty, beautiful, and intelligent. Well, maybe not but most of us do like Peanut Butter & Jelly and would prefer to not have a pet ferret.

  • Be aware our kids require constant supervision. Remember how exhausting the toddler stage was? It never goes away for us, the toddlers just get bigger and stronger. It’s really hard work. For real. That and it’s not a stage. There is no “it gets easier.” It actually gets harder.

  • Be aware we embrace the beauty of our world but also like to escape from it. We love having conversations where autism never comes up. But then again, we also love when it is acknowledged. Hmmm...sounds like it may be tough to be our friend and gage our needs so thanks for doing that.

  • Be aware we are tired pretty much all of the time. Our kids don’t sleep well and therefore neither do we. We look forward to National Coffee Day, which by the way, is September 29.

  • Be aware we kind of get sick of advice. Just listen. I suppose that is true for everyone, most of the time anyway, huh?

  • Be aware our threshold for excitement and appreciation is very low. THAT is such a gift!!! Remember when your kid took their first steps or said your name? Now imagine you waited almost 7 years for that to happen. Wow!!!! We find much joy in such little things. The day my daughter independently put her hand in her pocket to keep it warm lit me up for a week! She was 10 years old.

That is probably enough. 

There is plenty more, but rather than read it here, go find a special family waiting to befriend you. We don’t mind if you fumble through it at first and actually kind of appreciate your willingness to stretch your comfort zone. It says a lot about who you are. 

Now...go light something up blue or do a colorful puzzle or whatever else this day is supposed to be about. I’m going to go make a sandwich. One guess as to what kind.