October 1st is here.
To other people, the month of October raises awareness for various different causes, for the people at FACS (Family and Children Services) this month is, "Awareness for Child Abuse and Prevention", for another cause that is dear to myself and our family, "Breast Cancer Awareness", and of course, this month we celebrate, "Canadian Autism Awareness Month". (Which is different than April 1st which is National Autism Awareness Day).
Autism Ontario does a great job raising awareness, by selling window clings for your car, t-shirts, participating in Canal Days in Thorold, and today, hosting a Kick off to Autism Awareness Month at Antipastos. The event was having 2 speakers and a luncheon, and I was fortunate enough to attend this event and sit with my, "Autism Moms" and their moms, it was wonderful.
The first speaker came up, he was a 10 year old boy, with his mother, and his Autism Service dog, "Ethan". The boy began to say his speech, he told the audience how his mother was told not to have high expectations, that he was non-verbal, and had a lot of sensory issues. Things like crowds, crying babies, and lights bother him.. so in those situations, he has his service dog to help him and make him feel better. He told us how he loves to draw, play soccer - he was even in the top 5 scorers on his team. He then read a prayer before dinner, and it took me everything not to cry the, "ugly cry" on the table and make a scene :) it was beautiful to hear him speak, to know that maybe one day this could be possible for my boys; for him to verbalize what makes him tick, what he can express what a lot of people are not able to do, it was amazing.
We then ate lunch - epic.
Then, we heard from the featured speaker, a woman with Aspergers who creates drawings that allow her to show us a piece of her world, but also allows us to see into that world that she lives in. The pictures are beautiful, and have so much meaning behind them. Hearing her speak, though long, was interesting. I say interesting, because she went from one topic to another, explained why certain books, songs, videos, drawings mean something to her; how she was bullied in grade school and couldn't fit in, but had a special teacher that understood when she needed those, "breaks" and would take her out to run. To this day, she still uses that technique to calm herself down when she becomes anxious or overwhelmed, which I thought was amazing. She continued to speak and say that she read a book where the character appeared to have Autism, but at the end, the character was just imagining it and was cured, she said that offended her, and actually, it offended me as well when she said it. So, she is writing a book where the main character is a woman with Aspergers, and not only does she have Autism, her Aspergers makes her special and if she didn't have it, she wouldn't be as amazing as she is.
I also got to visit with my Autism moms, the same moms that make me feel so comfortable and so understood, having them at the same table couldn't have made this Kick off to Autism Awareness Month as great as it was. I can ask them questions, talk about my issues, and there is always an ear to give advice and to show understanding. I hope this event continues to be a yearly event, I couldn't have picked a better way for the Autism Community to celebrate Autism Awareness Month then with the community we were surrounded with today.