Autism sucks. I know that’s not the party line. Today is Autism Awareness Day and I’m supposed to be sharing non-scary facts and anecdotal tidbits to take the edge off the scary diagnosis and reassure people. To be clear, people with autism are all kinds of awesome, as are most people.
But autism? I am not a fan.
It’s weird. My son with autism also has Down syndrome, as does his brother. I’m a huge cheerleader for all things Down syndrome. I have Down syndrome jewelry, clothing, and bumper stickers. I pre-plan blog posts to commemorate Ds advocacy days. I didn’t even know about Autism Awareness Day today until somebody tagged me on Facebook.
Honestly? Down syndrome is easy. It has a known cause, for one thing (an extra chromosome). There are physical characteristics that make it recognizable to others (which is good and bad.) When your baby is born with it, there is a plan of action. I know Down syndrome. I can do Down syndrome.
Autism is sneaky. We don’t know where it comes from. There are about a million different things to try that might make it better – diets and oils and exercises, etc. Everyone has an opinion about them, but very little scientific evidence to back it up. No way to keep your sanity and try them all.
Down syndrome seems to be a wonderful part of who my boys are. Autism seems to be a thief determined to steal my boy away.
It’s the great disruptor, spiriting away the peace in my home. It causes intense frustration for the boy who has it and the family who loves him. It causes him to act out in ways that seem beyond any of our control, including his.
World Down Syndrome Day was March 21st. That day included cupcakes and kisses and celebration. Today, April 2, Autism Awareness Day included pinches and broken nail polish bottles and an early bedtime. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to celebrate autism.
Today is not that day.