A montage of autism.
This is my family’s autism.
It is the 18th of April during Autism Awareness month, and the Velazquez family is still wearing their blue puzzle piece pins and autism awareness t-shirts. We’re still writing and communicating and make those people in our community aware of the disorder that affects the youngest member of our clan.
Sole, my daughter, has been talking about doing a presentation about autism for her classmates for the past two years. Initially she wanted to educate her peers because she felt deeply scarred by their curious questions.
Why doesn’t your brother talk? How come he moves his hands like that? Is there something wrong with him?
Children are brutally honest and have no tact when it comes to identifying the differences in others. This both annoyed and hurt my girl, so she felt compelled to do something about it. However, time quickly passed as standardized testing absorbed her 4th grade spring, she didn’t feel it was the right time to ask her teacher about doing a presentation, so she never inquired about the possibility. Then school came to a close, we moved, and all was forgotten about educating that set of classmates.
Or so I thought.
She has been watching me as I become increasingly more absorbed in fervent autism advocacy. I find her sharing children’s books with me that she is reading in which one of the main characters has autism. She shares stories with me about other children that attend her new school and how they are treated and sometimes mistreated because of their differences.
She has began to mirror my moves, as the advocacy bug seems to have bitten her again.
Sole wants to build awareness. She wants to do it for the right reasons. She sees the importance of children taking action in their communities and of those same children growing up to be adults who understand and support and tolerate the differences of others. She wants to build a better world and she feels empowered to take it upon herself to do her part.
So, the other day she wrote her teacher an email.
To: Mr. Soandso@email.com
Hi Mr. Soandso. I kind of forgot to ask you a question. So I wanted to do a presentation on what Autism is after April vacation. I want to do this because I want to help people to get a better grasp on what Autism is. Can I? I would need about 20 minutes to show the presentation. I would like to work on it over break, so if you would let me know that would be great.
Mr. Soandso responded the next morning with a simple, short, wonderful email that gave my girl the space and audience that she needed in which to begin her advocacy.
So, she has been working hard on her presentation. We sat down and brainstormed some ideas and she has begun creating a Powerpoint presentation along with some other activities to illustrate what autism is and what it is like to live with autism.
One of the extra pieces that she has taken on is creating puzzle piece pins like those that we purchased from Autism Speaks and have been wearing every day this month, so that her classmates can spread the word through their pin wearing. She is very excited.
And I’m proud of her. She is an amazing young lady and I love watching her grow into the kind of woman that anyone would be proud to know.