2016 proved to be one of the most challenging years I’ve had. It’s odd that the pinnacle moment of my year which was getting the honor and privilege of flagging practice for the Indianapolis 500 was the same moment that my year started to go downhill as that was the day I first felt symptoms of the eventual pneumonia and pleurisy that I’d come down with. From that moment it was one thing after another and my will has a person waffled. Sure, I completed my travel book (I can’t wait until you get the honor of reading the finished product!) but the constant elements in my life and health and close calls I had eroded my will. However, 2017 is upon us and with it a new vigor for the mission.
This is my eighth year in the role I have as Autism Ambassador for Easterseals Midwest and as the title of this post states it is truly a race. If you know my story you know that I wanted to be a race car driver but that never came to be. That’s more than okay because the race that you, I, and the rest of the world is in is the race for autism awareness and more importantly autism spectrum understanding. Each year I have said that we have made great headway in the awareness aspect but still we are far behind where we need to be on the understanding aspect. This can’t stand! We are in a race. All of us.
Why do I say race? Each day, somewhere across America, and the world, will be a case of misunderstanding. It may lead to bullying, it may lead to a confrontation, and with a little understanding these cases may not happen or if they were to still the consequences may not be as severe as they may have been. Tomorrow the same thing will happen, and the day thereafter all the way to the end of the year. I don’t want to say there’s a true enemy of autism but if you were to press me for one I would say time is the enemy. With all things autism related sooner equals better and the sooner parents get the diagnosis for their children or employers get educated on what the autism spectrum entails and when teachers are taught that a student with Asperger’s isn’t being belligerent when constantly asking for a logical reason when asking, “why?” we will be inching closer to defeating the enemy of time.
This isn’t a race that we can lift of the proverbial throttle. We must forge onward and we won’t always be able to travel at Mach 2 to the goal of having everyone in the world being fully aware and able to understand the autism spectrum, but we must strive for it. I believe and know that there is so much human potential in those on the autism spectrum and to have that potential squandered due to misunderstandings is something I hope will slowly subside.
It’s 2017 and I am embracing this year and I hope this is the year we make our greatest leap forward yet. We are in this together and I wish the best in your endeavors and I will try and continue giving you the best of material possible. Let’s do this year! Let’s change this world for the better!