Being Aware Isn’t Enough

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

We wear our blue on April 2, to sanctify Autism Awareness Day.  I’m one of the many proud parents that shares photos online of the puzzle piece…

I broadcast my love for my son publicly; probably more than he appreciates during the month of April.

While I feel my gestures are sincere, I know that there is much more to be done.

Understanding and accepting individuals with Autism extends farther than our efforts made this one time of the year.

Our actions need to continue the whole year through and being AWARE just isn’t enough.

To enlighten myself and others on how we can better identify with individuals with Autism, I interviewed my kind, funny, and bright fourteen-year old son.

He also happens to be on the Autism spectrum.  I wanted a glimpse into what that means to him.

I asked him the following questions and he reciprocated thoughtfully.

1. Tell me what being on the Autism spectrum means to you?

“Not much. I don’t really feel a lot different than other people. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.”

2. What aspects of Autism do you find most difficult to live with?

“Sensory issues, mostly sounds, high-pitched sounds that come out of nowhere. Also, buzzing for some reason. And some paranoia here and there about various things.”

3. Tell me about the positives you experience that come along with having Autism.

“I have a good memory and I guess my music taste is unique for my age.” As he answered my questions, he was happily listening to Gold Dust Woman, by Fleetwood Mac.

4. What advice would you give a parent of a child recently diagnosed with Autism?

“Don’t worry. It’s not dangerous or anything.”

5. As a society, what can we do to better empathize and support those on the spectrum?

“That’s a tough question. I feel people on the spectrum shouldn’t really receive better or worse treatment in our society; we should be treated equally to everyone else.  I do feel that people should share their stories.  People shouldn’t make a big deal out of it.  I don’t feel the need to make it such a big part of my life.”

We spent some time talking after our “interview.”

The wisdom he imparted on me made quite a significant impact.

He may have an Autism Spectrum diagnosis, but that doesn’t define him.  He’s so much more than that.

He’s a guitar player, a big brother, a music lover, a cat enthusiast, a kind-hearted friend, and a creative writer.

As he doesn’t feel the need to place paramount focus on the label of Autism, perhaps I shouldn’t either.

From now on, I’ll work hard to empower my son, by concentrating on all the other facets that make him an individual…on all the wondrous traits that make him Tyler.


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