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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

World Autism Awareness Day Is Coming Up, And I Won't Be Celebrating

I'm starting to see the signs everywhere - in Facebook posts, in emails soliciting my support, in flyers coming home from my son's therapists, and in conversations with friends who want to let me know about an event they got an invitation to.

World Autism Awareness Day is coming! April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day! Paint the Town BLUE for World Autism Awareness Day! Buy your blue lightbulbs for your porch light, put a sign in your yard, buy a tee shirt, sign up for a walk or a bake sale and fly that autism flag high!

Except, I won't.

Oh, it's not that I'm not in wholehearted support of all things autism - anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I not only support it, I celebrate it. For all the pain in my ass that autism has given me through my son, it's only a drop in the bucket compared to the compassion and communication skills it has taught me.

I wouldn't change my son for the world. Not for the entire world, and that's a fact. I'd like to help him navigate this world in a better and more productive way, of course, but I want him to navigate it on his terms.

His autistic terms.

And so when April 2nd rolls around and everyone marches around beating that autism drum and slapping puzzle-shaped ribbons on their minivans, I smile and nod and tell them I can't march in that parade. Why?

Because it's April 2nd.

It's April 2nd, and it's Anna's birthday.

Do you have any idea how annoying it is to me that World Autism Awareness Day falls on my daughter's birthday?

There are events going on all over the place, but I look at this wonderful girl who's already getting the short end of the parental attention stick, a girl who's always sacrificing and making accommodations for her brother without a whole lot of griping, and I just can't take away from her special day. She deserves it.

I can work to support autism awareness, therapies and research every other day. There's only one Anna's birthday, and one amazing Anna. I made the decision a few years back that she deserves to have at least one day where it's all about her, and not so much about him for a change. He gets his share the rest of the year, I assure you.

So, please forgive me if I'm only moderately supportive on what should be the biggest day of the year for an Autism Mom. I'll never stop fighting for my son, ever. But I'll also never forget that I'm Anna's Mom, too.

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