This year marks five years of our awareness of Autism. Five years of full immersion is maybe a bit of an extreme way to get the message across, but if we were some kind of psychological or scientific study, I’d wager that the results have been successful.
We’ve moved well beyond awareness now. I think we covered that pretty quickly after the diagnosis, along with grief, denial, inhaling lots of complex carbohydrates, and eventually finding relief that we had some answers. Sometimes all of these things at once.
Next came the education phase. Or the obsession period as it was also known. It was a time that I read nothing that wasn’t about Autism, in whatever format I could get my hands on. Books, blogs, websites and newsletters. I took everything in, and I mean everything, and tried to filter it for what might work for Poss.
As part of the education phase, I became one of those infuriating evangelical people who not only educate themselves, but feel the need to educate everyone else. Like an ex-smoker or someone on the Paleo diet. I had all the answers and looking back I realise I was not just a little bit annoying.
And if I wasn’t educating, I was diagnosing. It’s hard when you have all that information fresh in your brain to not apply it to everyone around you. Including yourself. Husband and I would discuss our friends children, our friends, their friends, actually pretty much anyone we came across and decide whether we thought they were on the Spectrum or not. Fun times.
Eventually we’ve come to acceptance. It’s our new normal now, and to be honest after five years, it’s not even that new anymore. It’s just our normal, our every day, our particular dryer setting. Autism is part of our world, an extricable part; I don’t know where it starts or where it ends anymore.
That’s not to say we’ve got all the answers. We don’t. Autism is a wily beast, always changing it’s form; stretching and receding, shifting the landscape that we operate in. I can’t predict what is likely to happen from one moment to the next, let alone look forward to the years to come with any kind of certainty.
And it still has the power to kick our arses; leaving us breathless, frightened and exhausted. But thankfully we now have a team of amazing people: specialists, teachers, family and friends, who we know are there, cheering us on and helping us put the pieces back together each time.
Yet, when I look back at the last five years, the overwhelming feeling I’m left with is pride; I’m stupidly proud of how far Poss has come. She’s fought hard for every success, every gain, and she’s smashed every one of those boundaries that were put on her in the early days.
If I was to ask for anything in the next five years, it would be simply to see her smile more than frown. See her celebrate more than commiserate. Watch her win more often than she loses. Join her in laughter more often than I wipe her tears.
And continue to help move others from autism awareness, towards acceptance.