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Thursday, April 8, 2010

April is Autism Awareness Month

Last month, at one of Sam's PeeWee wrestling tournaments, his friend's mother overheard me talking about Sam's autism and how hard it was for him to learn the wrestling "moves" in that loud, chaotic environment. She pulled me aside and said, "I didn't know Sam had autism. When did you find that out?" She was surprised to learn that Sam's diagnosis was a year ago.

Since April is Autism Awareness Month, I decided to really look at how I am raising autism and Asperger's Syndrome awareness in my own community. My goal was to teach three people about autism-spectrum disorders and the effect Sam's Asperger's has had on all our lives.

I post all my articles I've written about Asperger's Syndrome on Facebook, and I have had several people (although not local people) thank me for linking my articles. My friend from college said she's learned a lot about Asperger's Syndrome from me ~ and she's a school teacher!

When someone local asks me about Sam, I explain that he has an autism-spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. Mostly they just smile and nod, and I try to explain things to them, but I haven't been able to come up with a good, yet brief, explanation.

And honestly, not too many people ask me about Sam. They just assume he's a naughty kid.

So how do I raise awareness in my local community? I write for my local newspaper, and I have pitched an idea to my manager for us to interview local families who have children with autism (including mine). So, there's one idea.

There are also a lot of Autism Awareness products - jewelry, t-shirts, buttons, car magnets. I bought a couple t-shirts from Cafe Press, and some pins from another company to wear, to let people know how proud I am of my son with Asperger's Syndrome. 

I am also giving a presentation this Saturday about Asperger's Syndrome for our local Sons of Norway group. I'm so excited! The woman asked me if I could give a 15-minute presentation on such short notice. I laughed and said, "I could talk for two weeks about Asperger's Syndrome right off the top of my head!"

I think I have accomplished my goal, or I will have by the end of the month. What are you doing for Autism Awareness Month? Let me know!

"The puzzle pattern of this ribbon reflects the mystery and complexity of Autism. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of people and families living with this disorder. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope - hope through research and increasing awareness in people like you."

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