Autism. Autism is such a widely known word, but the definition gets lost in translation. What most people think is associated with Autism, actually isn’t. Most behavior that people associate with Autism is actually wrong. Most people have more encounters with people who have Autism, than they realize. So, why is it that even though people recognize the word, Autism, no one really knows what Autism is? It seems that we are comfortable being believing what we hear than seeking out the truth. And that’s not just with Autism, it’s with everything. I think we do that because we assume that it just doesn’t effect us. But when 1 in every 68th person is a person living with Autism, you can bet that at some point it will effect your life.
Autism was introduced to me, by my buddy, Rodney. His mom is a good friend and client of my mom. So, I knew Rodney before he was even born! When I was in college, I became the official babysitter of Rodney, his twin sister and their baby brother. By this time, Rodney had been diagnosed with Autism and everyone around him was working on trying to figure out how to adjust to the daily struggles & joys Autism brings. Joy? You may wonder why I would pair a word like, Joy with Autism. For the simple fact that we forget that through all things, there are moments of pure joy. Especially when dealing with children! For me, being with Rodney everyday, trying to understand how his life needed to function and watching his parents show him how he needed to function was nothing short of a blessing. Rodney’s mother show me parenthood in a different light. She listened a different way. She was patient a different way. She fought for her kids a different way. She showed me how to love a child in a different way. And Rodney, well he showed me the world in a whole new light. He changed how I listened to music and played games. He changed how I looked at animals and nature. My perception of how adults are viewed by kids or just being in a store, all changed. I took those lessons and used them in different ways through dealing with Ulcerative Colitis and parenthood. I heard, saw and felt things differently after loving a child with Autism. I am so grateful to Rodney, his parents and his siblings for allowing me to understand what Autism really is. And why it’s so important to not only find a cure for it, but it’s important to help families affected by Autism have a better quality of life. With the numbers jumping from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68…the time for action is now!
The month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Please take the time to seek out resources and education for you and your kids. Jax doesn’t have autism. But Jax understands Autism. Jax loves Rodney. He gets so excited when he finds out he’s gonna see him. He knows Rodney has autism and with the help of the children’s book, My Brother Charlie, he has a better understanding of what Autism is. That people with Autism are not stupid. That Autism isn’t something to fear. And that it’s okay to be friends with people with Autism. He looks beyond the Autism, and sees the person. I encourage you to talk to your kids about Autism. Introduce the subject of Autism to your classrooms, church groups and mommy groups. I’m doing my part this year by working with Jaxon’s favorite clothing line and favorite charity. This month Mixed Up Clothing will make a donation in the name of Hippo & The Crazy Creole Mommy to The HollyRod 4 Kids Foundation when you buy something from their website using the promo code CREOLE. HollyRod 4 Kids has become a beacon of change & hope within the Autism community by providing Nabi Tablets & Apps for kids/teens who are non-verbal, by giving them a voice! They have also sponsored an Autism friendly family festival, Resources, a children’s book, a summer camp and so much more for kids & teens affected by Autism. Jaxon and I attend the festival every year where we meet inspiring kids and families who are affected by ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). It’s a safe, friendly, fun environment where the kids can have fun, eat allergy friendly foods and the parents can relax! Mixed Up Clothing’s generous contribution will help the lives of some of the hundreds of clients HollyRod 4 Kids helps. With Easter around the corner, Hippo’s favorite bow tie will surely be a hit. Shop for a cause and stand up for Autism!