The journey from the moment J was diagnosed with autism to today has been filled with curves, hills and detours. We have only been aware of his autism for two and a half years. We have so many years left of exploring, learning and growing yet to do. The approach of April heralds a lot of people talking about autism. This is good. The world should know about autism and learn to understand what it means, right?

Sadly, it does not always read that way.

There’s puzzle pieces everywhere, a symbol that reads like people like my son are something to be solved; to be fixed. There is this commercial push towards blue because one organization deemed that to be the color for autism. There’s a lot of voices trying to talk over one another and yet, the most important voices of all are often looked over. The voices of autistic adults and teenagers are of essential value to the generations that will come after and yet, here we have this month that seems to forget their very existence.

My son is not a puzzle. He is a work of art created in a different style. He has every piece he is supposed to have, perfectly fitted in the order they were meant to fit to make him uniquely him. I said in his IEP meeting last week when we discussed some of his language development that when he was born, he threw out the map. He did. He has charted his own course from the first and that course shows such beauty and promise. It will not be typical. It will not be easy. It will not be what anyone expects and yet, it will be exquisite and amazing to behold.

This April, I ask you to consider the voices of those who know autism best. I ask you to listen to what they have to say, see the contributions they are making to their world and most of all, to give them the respect they deserve. You can find some great autistic voices at the links below:

The Autism Self Advocacy Network

Chloe Rothschild

Conquer for Conner 

Videos by Amythest Schaber

Nathan Selove

If anyone has additional links they want to share, please let me know, I’m always up for more reading and know there are lots more out there.