This week marks the beginning of a month that has come to be rather meaningful to us. No, not because of the well known showers that bring beautiful flowers (although we like that part too...), but rather because it's Autism Awareness Month!
In the days to come, you will see a lot of things covered in blue, and puzzle pieces on just about everything from billboards to ketchup (seriously!).
While all these things are amazing, this awareness is really only the first step in what we really strive for. My dear, what we really hope to achieve is acceptance.
Most people these days are "aware" of your autism, but at the end of the day we all just want to be accepted for who we are. Autism is not everything about you, but there's no denying that it is part of you.
In our home Autism Awareness and acceptance is celebrated year round, not just the month of April. We do our very best to help advocate, educate and give you (and Clara and Gabe) the very best life we possibly can. You yourself spend hours upon hours in therapy not only to help navigate your somewhat unsettling surroundings, but also in an effort to help embrace all the uniqueness and "youness" that you have to offer this world! You WILL accomplish great things Addie - remember that.
So with that in mind, and to kick off this special month, we headed out to check out our local Autism awareness and sensory friendly events! As luck would have it, there was quite a few to attend!
First up, The Shining Stars Pediatric Therapy group hosted an Autism Community Day at the Holly Springs Police Department. This one was particularly intriguing because I had the ability to register you with our police department database in an effort to assist in the case that you wander away from home (not too hard to imagine, unfortunately).
Clara and Gabe are currently involved in spring sports, so it was a divide and conquer kinda day. Just mommy, my camera (we can't take Miss Tammy on all of our adventures) and Addie - we got this! We were all smiles...here we come!
When we arrived, it sounded more like a dance party then anything else! Keep in mind, all kids on the spectrum react differently to so many things, I knew the DJ's loud music was going to be our first hurdle in getting through this particular event. As you darted past the DJ booth like being chased by a coyote, it was time to check in.
I successfully signed our names and email address on a list, all while using my mommy Kung- Fu grip not to allow you to run out of my sight.
Next up, the jumpy house!
Ok finally something I know you'll love! Except you couldn't seem to bring yourself to climb through the small opening to get in. You tried about 30 times (seriously), but it was a fail. You spent more time standing outside it looking at me like "is there any other way to get in?!"
Our saving grace was a giant blow up pool filled with colorful balls! A sensory dream for you. You spent a good amount of time trying to share the space and gave a solid attempt to sort the colors. Eventually, you jumped out and ran back to the dreaded jumpy house, where the attendant was now enjoying a chocolate ice cream cone while assisting children in and out.
Insert our next hurdle!
Your sweet little, determined voice repeating "a brown, a brown, a brown"
You were full on ready to show that poor girl who was boss for her ice cream! This was our cue that it was time to go.
As we approach the DJ booth one more time, you sprinted yet again only this time I successfully tackled you to the ground before you made it to the parking lot. Mommy wins and you are safe!
So first event wasn't a home run, but not for lack of our communities efforts. There were bubbles, therapy info, snacks, fire trucks and police cars - all good stuff. And hopefully I'll be able to get you back there for that all to important registration.
Next up for the weekend was a sensory friendly Autism event at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
This was a little more your speed, and exceptionally well organized!
This event took place 2 hours before the museum was open to the public. Immediately upon entering the doors we were offered an array of things to help assist you through the Museum. Head phones, sunglasses, social stories, charts! I felt a weight lifted off my chest that this was going to go well! Everywhere we looked there was a smiling volunteer in a light blue shirt ready to help!
You jumped, you stimmed, and better yet, you explored WITH your siblings!
You built with blocks together.
You experienced effects of wind and water through demonstration and played with sand and giant outdoor instruments.
You saw lots animals - having what seemed like a meaningful conversation with a goat and a turtle :).
We even unfortunately discovered that you are much faster than a butterfly (no worries we were able to set it free, although it may have been slightly traumatized from its encounter with you!)
All in all it was a really great day for our dream team!
So Addie we ventured out this weekend to see what our community was doing for this all to important month for us. They didn't disappoint and we sincerely hope it brought some awareness to something so near and dear to our hearts.
After all, awareness is the first step to shine a light on what will hopefully become... acceptance.
I love you sweet girl! Happy Autism Awareness Month!