The space between Awareness and Acceptance

Today, April 2, is International Autism Awareness Day and I’ve seen some action on Facebook this morning, reminding me that I’d posted this poem last year.  I was just going to hit re-post, but a poet, rereading an old poem, has itchy fingers…some edits needed to be made.  Some were incidental, but one was stimulated by a fellow parent in-the-trenches of autism, who posted an article which basically said, These little things we do to highlight awareness are silly — it’s acceptance we need.  So acceptance, yes, and that means taking it into the heart. Parents begin there, making them passionate about all this, but even for us (the parents) acceptance is a process. There is always some lag time between head knowledge and heart action…but perhaps now we’ve all had enough time?  It’s time to move it into the heart.

Autism came in April

Autism came in April
Awareness comes in June

Weighted development –
diagnosis impeded everything
but beauty

Life reoriented to
severe boundaries, limits,

Second diagnosis
a loud and cruel echo
morose reverberation

Autism came in April
Awareness came in June

Speechless kids still try to talk
but you must learn the language
a pull, a context, a leap…

while brain waves cross, sensory
overloaded nerves ignite –
a neurological storm

The impossible is managed
not with miracles but mercy
extended to them, to me

Autism came in April
Acceptance comes in June

© 2016 Laurel Archer

Postscript April 2017:  The hope (sometimes the cruel hope) of every parent who has received a diagnosis of autism for their child is that things will get better as interventions are pursued. The effort is important and some individuals do make extraordinary advances, but every journey is different, because every child is different.

There is now a large population of individuals with autism who are entering their adult years — intervention needs still exist but are now augmented by enormous integration needs.  These wonderful young adults need to find welcoming invitations into supportive communities, they need friends, not just paid support workers, not just funded supportive structures.  Awareness isn’t just cognitive knowledge and well funded programs, it yearns for the heart to be engaged, hands to be involved, doors to be opened…

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