Let’s talk about something important that has always gotten pushed to the side a bit (no not suicide, either). Autism. April is autism awareness month and if you don't have someone in your family or someone close to you that has this disorder, it may not pertain to you, but reading this could likely help you understand and see signs of someone who has autism whether it be at school, work, or just in the general public.
Autism: a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
There are three types of autism spectrum disorder. Autistic Disorder or known as “classic autism,” Asperger syndrome, and permissive developmental disorder (PDD), otherwise known as the “atypical autism.” For me, this hits home a lot. My little cousin, Adam, who is 9, maybe 10, has Aspergers. For everyone who makes a judgment call on kids with disabilities, because I know there are people who do, I've experienced it during a meltdown at a McDonalds with my cousin.
We were eating one day at a McDonalds near where we live, there was a do not open sign on the one door and my cousin was only 6 or 7 I think at the time, well my mom and I were cleaning up trying to get my other cousins' shoes on because they had the little playground in that McDonalds, and low and behold my cousin opens the door that says do not open after I told him not to and the fire alarm goes off. All hell breaks loose at this point, he's screaming so my mom quickly picks him to bring him to the car and he’s spitting at her and kicking her which is normal for a kid with autism when they're in a fit like that. Well, to say the least, the next moment I was not expecting at all, we were walking out and a GROWN man says “scumbag little kids.” Needless to say, it set me off, and being the one who was always with my cousin while he was growing up and being the one to be able to calm him down or make him sit still long enough to play a game on the computer with me I was furious, and my defensive protective side kicked in and decided to cut the guy and his wife off outside the door and tell them that what they said was wrong and that I pray to god they never have a kid with disability.
Some people may not know this, but loud noises such as a fire alarm going could set off a fit for a child with autism because it bothers their ears. My cousin has noise-blocking headphones, the slightest most common noises such his brother smacking his lips while he eats or him clicking his tongue could set him off or he finds annoying or irritating. He goes and gets his headphones and puts them on. The man ignored what I said and walked away and his wife said, “What was she even saying to you?”
The point of this article is for autism awareness. Everyone may not see it, but kids with disabilities are the smartest, most caring, loving, funny people I have ever laid my eyes on. My cousin LOVES the solar system, I’m 19 and he's 9, 10 year age difference there and I've graduated high school with years of science and still can barely tell you all of the planets in the solar system and he can memorize all of them in order, draw them, and tell you facts about each one. He can listen to a song for the first time about the solar system then replay it after it’s done and know the words to the song. It amazes and so does he.
I’d have to say his favorite thing to do though is draw. He expresses himself through his drawings, he just loves arts and crafts. Let me tell you something, through the bad days, Adam has the good outweighs the bad attitude and I wouldn't trade him for the world. Yes, he’s different, but everyone is and we shouldn’t treat them any differently because of that.
I encounter kids and people with autism at work a lot. I know how to talk to them and keep their minds busy while I'm checking their parent out or while their parent is trying to shop. The most important thing for people to learn is patience. People need to be more aware in these types of situations so they know how to calm someone down when they are having a fit or meltdown. But the most important thing? Treat them with the same respect you would a kid who doesn’t have autism. Don't belittle them or talk down to them, they are smart so please, do not make them out to be dumb or make them and others think they can’t do something because of their disability. They can do just as much as anyone else with some minor setbacks, but guess what, everyone has setbacks and everyone has bad days. And on my bad days, I look to my cousin to make me smile because that’s what he’s good at, no matter how bad his day went he always knows how to put a smile on my face without realizing.
Kids with autism are the same as kids who don't have autism, so let's listen to our own advice and start treating everyone with the same respect we would want our kids to be treated with. It’s the little things that count. I wouldn’t trade my cousin for anything, I wouldn't trade his energy, his love of art, video games, and the solar system. He is who he is for a reason and I am blessed to have a part in his life and go through life with him helping him along the way. Remember, treat others how you would want to be treated and always think before you speak, point, stare, or laugh. Were all different on the outside but on the inside were the same and that's what counts. I’ll always support autism awareness month.