We are well into April and I am Happy to see that so many people are enjoying inkhappi’s autism prints and posts I have shared for autism support the last couple of years. Today I want to share Five things we can personally do to support autism! I am going to get a bit passionate in this post because I love several “someones” with autism and their families too!
First of all I want to introduce you to one of my “most favorite people” EVER!!
This is Jake. I have known Jake since the day he was born to my BFF Amy. He recently turned 21, he’s 6′ tall and he has autism. Jake always shares that captivating smile you can see in the photo. He loves dinosaurs and can tell you any and all dinosaur facts. He has an amazing way with computers and can sense and fix a problem with no training. Jake bowls regularly and knows how to bowl a perfect 300! He loves to golf, play baseball, and attend special olympic events. He enjoys taking his dog Oden for walks with his mother. He loves to go camping and on scouting/mountain men adventures with his Dad. He has always been a friend to everyone at school. He gives the best hugs and compliments! He tells funny jokes and stories. 🙂 He LOVES Santa Claus and will sit on his lap even at 20 years old! (so awesome) He’s a bit picky about the food he eats but he’s fun to share a meal with. I could go on, and on. There are so so many amazing Jake stories. My life has been uplifted knowing him!
Raising a child with autism is challenging but oh such a blessing. Jake has an incredible family and recieves much support. They do all they can to see that his needs are met. They have sacrificed much in his behalf. They have also received so much joy from Jakes sweet nature.
But there are challenges. Many of them! One of the difficult things that Jake and his family endures is the lack of knowledge and understanding that some show towards autistic individuals. You see, Jake is a fine intelligent young man, yet his mind works differently than the average person. He is bright in many areas yet he behaves like a young child and will act out with concern in situations that are uncomfortable for him. For example, he loves Disneyland but standing in line with a noisy crowd is something he can’t endure. Disney allows individuals such as Jake to skip the long lines. What is sad is the way some people react to this. His family has recieved unkind looks and comments to this and other situations that Jake may have a hard time with, such as when he misbehaves or does things that may annoy some people. It’s important to be tolerant in these situations. We never quite know the battle some may be faced with.
Jake understands so much we may not comprehend, yet he has a more difficult time with reality. His childlike nature is endearing to those who love him, but those who don’t know him well may have a hard time understanding it. This sometimes results in Jake not being invited to parties or outings or being fully included in a group. Those who have gotten to know him love to be around him but he is often still left out. This is very common with autism.
Many relate autism to very young children. But those children grow up, yet their minds don’t necessarily grow up with their bodies. Since Jake recently turned 21 his family is faced with a new set of challenges. Jake will no longer be allowed in the public schools, working programs, and loses some benefits. His mom recently expressed to me concern over this and how she can allow him into a society that doesn’t always cater to his individual needs. There is also concern of him being mistreated. He still needs supervision from someone who is caring and understanding.
“If we can’t see a child with autism as capable, interesting and valuable, no amount of education or therapy we layer on top is going to matter.” Ellen Notbohm
Jakes mother recently gave me this quote and expressed the following concerns:
This is a good quote I have been thinking about since my son is done with the jobs program in may. “If we can’t see a child with autism as capable, interesting and valuable, no amount of education or therapy we layer on top is going to matter.” (Ellen Notbohm). I’ve been pondering that as he will leave the school district and literally we will be on our own. I see an uphill battle yet again trying to find somewhere that would accept him and see what he is good at and what he could bring to a work place if they were willing to take a chance and help him along. As adults with autism there are not a lot of supports, they even canceled his dental after turning 21. It’s also frightening to think it’s my sole responsibility to find him a place and a purpose while keeping him productive and happy so that he does not lose social or academic skills. I think everyone associates autism with little kids, and those kids grow up and still like the things they did when they were five and still need the therapy and support they had when they were five and still have the same risks and delays as they did when they were five but they are in a grown man body and society is not always as accepting of that. The 6ft tall autistic man can make people feel uneasy. But I have found certain champions in society who see him and acknowledge his worth and show him kindness and take a chance by talking with him or getting to know us. These lights every so often give me hope all will be well more than the rudeness of others that breaks me on occasion.
This is real emotion from one of the best mothers I know. She has always been heavily involved in his school, therapy and many activities that have been available for him. Most of that will be coming to an end but she’d still like to see him engaged in a good productive quality of life. It opened my eyes once again to the challenges she is faced with. Most parents watch their children go out on their own into the world when they become adults. She will be responsible for Jake even at an adult age.
Autism support is needed. Autism is real. Autism is rapidly increasing. Most likely you know someone with autism or encounter them. Here are five things we can do to accept and support individuals and families dealing with autism. Remember that autism is a lifelong challenge that can require full attention.
1. Be informed. Every individual is different but do some research and try to better understand autism. A bit of knowledge will help a lot in being able to better understand and accept. Share this information with others! A few wonderful resources are:
2. Be tolerant of those who behave differently than you are accustomed to. We never quite know the battle some may be faced with. Keep an open mind and show kindness to those dealing with autism. If you notice abuse or mistreatment, speak up and help.
3. Invite/Include them to participate in parties, activities, or sporting events.
4. Talk to the parents about their child. Show an interest in them and what their strengths are. Although, don’t offer advice on ways to care for their child. They know their child best, and what works for one may not work for another.
5. Offer support. Offer some supervision to relieve parents every so often. If you have the time and means to offer older autistic individuals to participate in some kind of work, which could even be washing a car every so often, or helping with errands at home or in an office.
I have done all of these things myself and I know its very doable. I’ve also made new friends and received to much joy and “happi” in my life due to this.
Here is a print to share or help bring awareness to some simple things we can all do to show autism support:
Visit my other autism posts and pick up posters and hand out cards for autism support here: (click on photos)
Thanks for taking the time to show your autism support!