Numerous homes, landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, museums, bridges and stores temporarily install blue lights. Autism- It was EVERYWHERE I looked, assaulting my heart, reminding me over and over again that I was now part of this club I never wanted to be part of. I was so raw and it was all too soon to process. I didn't understand what it was- World Autism Day! Light it up blue! Was it a celebration? My new reality left me shaking and sick and absolutely unable to celebrate any source of my pain.
And last year as I teetered on the cusp of reality about Parker having autism, I was at no better place. Now, one year later I'm realizing I really don't know much about anything. Facts and feelings change in an instant. I take life day by day, and sometimes moment by moment when anything more is too much. We've had some hard moments, and some incredible ones as well. I can say without hesitation the good ones have so incredibly far outweighed the bad.
I probably won't light anything blue this year. I'll see how I feel next year. The good thing about feelings is that they always change. Autism awareness is daily for us. It sometimes happens during a trip to the grocery store or a visit to the park. It is always kind, and in turn, we have always been met with acceptance, patience and kindness too. This blog has been such a beautiful exchange of heart and friendship, and I love that we can talk about a lot of things. Every moment I have with you to talk about autism is not taken for granted. I am grateful for those of you who are not affected by autism in your daily life but are still here connecting with a deep sense of empathy. I am grateful for you Super Power Parents. You are fierce and scared and strong and hopeful with me. You remind me in my darkest hours that I am not alone. Together we are never alone.
At the end of the day, I think we all take care of each other. I think when it comes to the big picture, autism is about every one of us. If it hasn't affected you, it might in your future. Today the CDC (the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) released new data showing that the overall prevalence rate of autism is officially now 1 in 68. That's a 30% increase from two years ago (1 in 88). Better diagnosis is not the answer. I remember when autism first entered our lives, I felt like we victims randomly hit by a stray bullet. It's scary data, and we still have no concrete answers as to why.
You've shown me that autism can be substituted with so many other situations in life. Situations that make us grow and stretch and change and pray and cry and laugh. Situations that bring beauty to you in its rawest of forms. Situations that will make your cup runneth over and make you hit rock bottom- often in the very same day. No matter your joy or struggle, you are not alone. I hope you can feel that now.
It's easy to get caught up on the messy and complicated parts... on the future parts... on the why????? parts...on the murky and difficult and unexpected and uncontrollable parts... But it helps to remember that right now the life ride is still spinning before us, and if we aren't careful it will pass us by.
I think it's important to try and turn disappointment into beauty when we can. I was disappointed after writing the post wishing my boys and all children with special needs could take part in a national advertising campaign. You know- because Gap didn't call me instantly to book my handsome lads. And then I realized I don't need a big company to show me that children with special needs are beautiful. Even little old me has the ability to share the beauty of ALL children - so I am turning my disappointment into something beautiful.
Tomorrow at 3pm, I will be on Central Valley Today (K-SEE 24 NBC) to discuss the Beautiful Super Powers photo shoot on Sunday. I'm nervous. I'm excited- not just about tomorrow- about the future. I'll post a link after for all my friends from out of town unless I say really stupid things. And I can't WAIT until the photo shoot on Sunday. It's going to be a day full of magic.
And for those of you not on Facebook, I wanted to make sure you saw this.
We were at the mall last night and this was hanging larger than life in the window at Gap. I had seen it hanging before but didn't make the connection until last night when it hit me. That is Rj Mitte, from the show Breaking Bad and the ABC family show Switched at Birth. He has Super Powers in the form of Cerebral Palsy. I just stood there, in awe with the biggest smile on my face and a huge feeling of hope in my heart.
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