My son is different. He’s not what society would consider a normal child, but God created him the way that He saw fit. So that makes him perfect! With that being said, I no longer ask God to change my son. I ask Him to change the hearts and minds of many of those around him. You can’t look at my son and see that he’s different. However, as soon as he opens his mouth, you know instantly that he’s different. You see my son is nonverbal autistic, so instead of talking he sometimes communicates by making noises that many would consider strange. Often times when either my wife or I don’t pick up on what my son is trying to communicate, he gets frustrated and he’s subject to throw a fit. This seems to inconvenience many people and strange looks or comments are soon to follow.
I’m reminded of a time when I took my family out to eat. While in the restaurant, my son had an episode. I tried many things to calm him down to no avail, so I eventually took my son out of the restaurant; but not before my wife overheard very rude remarks from another restaurant customer. If it’s not snide remarks, it’s strange looks that my son gets. My son is different, but he’s special, as well as other people who live with autism. It’s time that the world knows that!
That’s why autism awareness initiatives are so important. We must educate people and make them aware of the challenges that many who live with autism have. We must raise our voices for those like my son, who cannot speak for themselves. We must write articles, stories, books, and blogs for those autistic boys, girls, men, and women who cannot write for themselves because of fine motor skill challenges. And we must walk and run for those, who live with autism, who can’t walk or run by themselves because we fear that they may elope.
It’s not my son who needs to change, and it’s not your love ones who needs to change. Sure we do the best that we can to get them the services that they need in order for them to live a more productive life, but they shouldn’t have to change who they are in order to be accepted by society. No! It’s those intolerant individuals who feel like their lives are being inconvenienced by being in the same space with someone who lives with autism that need to change. I'm hopeful that the more we advocate and the more that we raise awareness, those hearts and minds will be changed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR George Stewart II is an educator, author, youth advocate, licensed Baptist minister, and speaker who has dedicated his life to the academic, social, emotional, and spiritual development of his family and the community at large.