GUEST POST by Melissa Lovio Sanchez, BCBA:
Although April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day, the entire month of April is dedicated to spreading awareness. However, what we need more than anything is acceptance. When telling people what I do and the population I work with, I am often greeted with sympathetic expressions, generally paired with an ignorant statement, such as “Oh those poor children. They can barely do anything.” I’m not calling out friends, family and acquaintances as being ignorant, just not informed about these amazing children and all they are capable of doing. And I see it all the time. Ultimately, it is not their fault.
Unfortunately, what is being presented to people via the media is to blame. Our culture is inundated by propaganda stating that children have been kidnapped by autism or robbed of their lives. It makes it seem like these children are lost, never to be found. This cannot be farther from the truth. Every single day I am blown away by all the children I work with, and their abilities to grow and learn. It may not be in the traditional way their peers do, but they are more than capable of achieving goals just as their peers.
This is not a death sentence, and I think that is what I would like people to understand more than anything this month, and every day moving forward. These are very special children that deserve love, acceptance and opportunity. We are the ones robbing them of that, not autism.