A week later, Robyn picked up the kids from school when Kian’s teacher came out with an envelope in hand. Considering the fact that we’ve been handed many envelopes preceding an IEP, she didn’t think much of it. She came home, opened the envelope and started reading some of the most funny and heart-warming letters from the kids and Kian’s teacher. I want to share with you a few excerpts from those letters.
“I know much more about autism now! I understand that people are different, but that is a good thing. Now I know why Kian does not like loud sounds. Now I understand.”
“What I learned about autism is that they are different about other things that other people don’t. I think the person that made Pokemon (Satoshi Tajiri) is very smart and I think that Kian is going to make a new Pokemon someday.”
“I learned that some kids with autism don’t like sounds or light. I learned that a lot of kids and people that are famous have autism. There are different people, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t special.
They’re just special in their own way.”
There are many, many more letters just like this. These letters really touch me as a dad and I think back to these letters often.
Today I was working out in the yard and like always, I started thinking about what we are doing with F.A.A.S.T. and how we can better reach people, my thoughts quickly shifted to how important being an advocate really is. With the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act being a hot topic the last few days, many of us are advocating to the legislature and our senators to take action. We talk to many people in the community about acceptance of those who are on the spectrum and the need for everyone to be more aware of their needs. We often go to local businesses, restaurants and movie theaters asking them for their help with making things easier for our kids.
Then it hit me: shouldn’t we be advocating to our youth? Shouldn’t we be making sure the people who will one day run our world have a full understanding of what our kids need going into the future?
Please understand, I am not saying that we should stop talking to adults about autism, but what I am saying is we need to start talking to the youth more about the roll they can play as they go out into the world. We can make our youth more aware of the challenges our children will face when they are out of the school system. We need our youth to understand the challenges that they will inevitably face to ensure the services for those on the spectrum will need as they mature and go into the workforce. We need to make sure that when mom and dad are gone, the success our kids achieve can continue on as they cement their legacy.
So here is a challenge I have for each of you: approach your local schools, ask them to educate them on autism. Ask them if you can talk to the kids, if not the whole school your childs classes. Ask your school
leadership to provide their support in teaching the school community and creating this awareness. We have an outstanding opportunity to teach, to lead and to create real change for years and years to come. We have an awesome opportunity to educate those that will need the understanding each of our children need, will we meet that challenge ahead of us?