Today is the last weekday of Autism Awareness Month my last blog of the month. Yesterday I mentioned the momentum I feel, but I also, from all my travels across Missouri, feel that parents have more hope in this month.
Having autism featured across many forms of media, I think, makes everyone involved on the spectrum not feel so alone. Is this the cause of that sense of hope I felt? Perhaps so.
I do have a fear though and that fear is that come the start of next week this momentum and sense of hope that I came across disappears. From the time after I got diagnosed to about two years ago I said the same thing over and over to my dad, "There is no hope." I now know I lied each time I said that, but the feeling of believing that sentence was a horrible experience. It is somewhat ironic that what I believed is exactly what I am telling people not to believe. It is true though because if one believes there is no hope then there very well might be none but not for the reason one believes. In my time of bleakness my dad told me, "Okay Aaron, you can believe that, but I will have enough hope for you."
Hope is a vital trait. Hope, I believe, is that trait that we have that let’s us believe that we can grow. Hope tells us tomorrow is another day and with each day we can become more. Without hope we have accepted our fate and regardless of diagnosis or lack of diagnosis, a person without hope will be defined by that.
How does one find hope? Well, that isn't an easy answer. It took me years to do so, but I firmly believed I would never be anything except what I was. I was wrong and despite my belief I feel I have grown. In fact, now that I accept who I am, I know I grow everyday. It used to define me but now I accept the challenges.
Just because May 1 rolls around and the news stories of autism may subside does not mean our mission is over. One reason, I feel, a lot of parents and families lose hope is the constant struggles with aspects of society. They can get so burned out fighting those battles that they have nothing left at home. It is for this very reason that just because Autism Awareness Month is over we should not let our voices be quiet. The momentum is there and I know next year we will be closer to the destination that I talked about yesterday and the year after we will be even closer, but today we are still traveling towards it and there are those people now that believe there is no hope. If you know a person or family like this, do what you can for them, but most of all I might suggest you do what my dad did for me. A little hope can go a long way.