Autism Awareness Day

2 Apr

April 2nd, 2012 is the 5th annual world autism awareness day.

What does that mean?

To show your support for people with autism?

To raise awareness and/or money for this disorder?

It’s a little bit of both. I think that, while autism is a well known disorder, it’s not really understood as much as I believe it should be. If you knew someone with autism, you’d know what I was talking about.

Do you know anyone with autism? I do. My older brother has the disorder. He has the “normal” characteristics of high functioning autism: “different” social skills, “different” learning techniques, no desire for change, etc. Teddy, actually, is the most amazing man I know. He does not judge. He does what he loves. He is extremely talented in music (he has perfect pitch, can play any instrument he touches, and knows almost every Beatles song on all of those instruments). Teddy has about a 220 bowling average. He can be sympathetic. He is very caring and reliable and friendly and loving. He doesn’t care about the little petty things, and will do anything for the people in his life. And, my favorite thing about Teddy is that he doesn’t know he can’t do things. If he wants to buy something, he will come up with the money to buy it. If he wants to go ice skating but no one will go with him, he will go alone. If he wants to drive to some place new, he will learn how and then do it. He has no boundaries in his future, and that is the most important thing I have learned from him. There is nothing more I could ask out of an older brother.

I remember one of our mutual friends a few years ago said something along the lines of, “Everyone should be like Teddy.” Teddy really is the ideal person. I couldn’t say enough about this man. He is aware he has autism, even though he doesn’t exactly know what it means. Yes, his family and friends have to be more patient with him. Yes, we had to get used to his way of life. (I still don’t know which day is hamburger day, but I will always know that Wednesday is pizza day.) We had to get used to explaining things a little differently to him. But honestly, don’t you have to do that with everyone you are close to? Remember what foods they like and dislike? Think of a way to explain things to that person so he/she understands it well? And really, shouldn’t we be patient with everyone?

I don’t see anything “wrong” with this disorder. I just see people who learn a little differently, act a little differently, and think a little differently than what “normal” people consider to be “normal.” *

Do you know anyone with autism? Go give them a hug. Try to learn from them and try to understand things from their perspective. Your mind will be blown.

*This asterisk is because I only have this intense experience with high functioning autism. I have interacted and met people with lower functioning autism and I admit it is completely different. It is harder to have a conversation with them and it’s harder to explain right from wrong. Sometimes, people with autism can barely speak, get frustrated all the time, are violent, have an extremely hard time learning any social skills or life skills, and won’t let you hug them or make eye contact with them. I understand that this must be hard for that person and his/her family. But, in their own special way, these people love their families and need their families. God put them on this earth for a reason, and I think that reason is to teach us to love unconditionally, no matter what.

Image: Haziqizmi

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