The Scarlet A(wareness) of Autism

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I have never been a huge fan of the word aware, even well before my son was diagnosed with autism.

The term itself is a copout, really, claiming the basest level of understanding.

I am aware I have a shopping addiction. Terrific. Now what?

The educator in me would prefer awareness to sit lower than comprehension, even lower than knowledge within that famous hierarchy of learning.

I feel the act of claiming awareness in order to make oneself feel sufficiently enlightened, wise, or in-the-know is, well, lame.

One of the finest qualities an individual can possess, in my humble opinion, is the admission of unacquaintance.  This person is neither blind to nor unconcerned about a particular topic, just unknowing.  And to her advantage, is most open to becoming one of the learned.

She is the individual with whom I’d happily spend my precious time imparting what little I know about autism.

I invite our ignorance to lead to “bliss” (over a bottle of red) (about which we know nada).

Just admit your brain is foggy when it comes to the topic of autism, and you’re instantly my kind of people.

Then, with your permission of course, we’ll bet against awareness and RAISE it with a help of just a few replacement “A” words I hear apply to autism.

Then again, what do I know? You ready?

The autism community* is likely done with the disabling term awareness and is in desperate need of your acceptance, aid, action, advocacy, activism, abilities, academics, accessibility, advice, affirmation, affection, allegiance, anchor, assets (yes, I mean the financial kind), and assurance.

Why? Because.

Individuals with autism can be anxious and appear antisocial, but they also are able, accepting, adaptable, admirable, adventurous, affable, ageless, alluring, analytical, animated, approachable, appealing, articulate, athletic, autonomous, available, average (yeay!), and adorable (duh).

Feeling absolved of that sin I call unadulterated awareness yet? Good!

*I define the autism community to include 1 in 59 awesome people along with their parents, brothers, sisters, pets, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends, the UPS driver (often a friend), the bus driver, the wheels on the bus, teachers, therapists, spouses to their teachers and therapists, friends of parents, friends of brothers, friends of sisters…oh boy this is one ample assortment!

Chances are, you’re acquainted with someone in the abovementioned description.  And every single one begs you to bring more than just your “A” game.

Armchair warriors need not apply.

Awareness is not enough.

April is not enough. Please act.

Written by, Kristi Vannatta

Kristi Vannatta is mom to two boys, ages eleven and fourteen. In her infinite spare time (ha!) she runs Puzzle Peace Now, a South Florida based charity that raises money to send children with special needs to summer camp. She also co-hosts Disorderly Blondes, a podcast she started with her blonde bestie, who also happens to be an autism mom.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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