This month is National Autism Awareness Month in the states.
More kids will be diagnosed with this serious developmental disability this year -- one which affects 1 in every 100 children (1 in 70 males) -- than cancer, AIDS and diabetes combined (incidentally, I'm getting my facts from the Autism Speaks website).
Now, I could give a long dissertation on possible causes, effects, etc. but you can go to the site I just mentioned for that (and please do!). Just click on their Be Informed tab at the top of the page).
In this post, let me introduce you to two amazing superstar parents of autistic children. I realise there are thousands who take just as much time and effort -- and show just as much love and patience -- but these are special friends of the Relic:
One parent -- a young mom named Kelsey -- was, without a doubt, one of the most sterling examples of caring, loving motherhood. She worked with her young son so patiently, sweetly teaching him how (and why) to put his drink here, put his trash there, etc. -- and, at the same time, asking questions that would stimulate his mind.
She'd walk away from him for a few yards, then turn around and say, "Where's Mommy? Point out Mommy!" and he'd look, smile "There she is!" and point at her (she was trying to teach the importance of keeping eye contact on mom whilst they're out). And the youngster, to put it mildly, was brilliant!
The love shared between those two was inspiring, and warmed my heart so much, I had to meet and talk with them. It was so fulfilling ... (PS Did I tell you the mom is .... 21?) (reprinted from Ashland Journal)
The second is a dad who's been a friend of mine since childhood. Lowell and his wife epitomize the patience, love and care that every couple should bless their kids with. Here ... with his permission, let me share what he told me:
"Too many people think of Autisim as a bad thing. It's not you have to deal with these children differently and find what works. I've got a 9 year old step son who is autistic. He was diagnosed lw functioning yet he makes the A/B honor roll, got third place in third grade Science Fair and went to the county Science Fair this year. How's that? His mother's hard work and love for her son and we don't treat him hardly any different than any of the other five kids.
Only with certain things, he learns different and that's the key finding what works. He's in Cub Scouts I do Den leader duties and he has made leaps and bounds this year. I work with him a lot myself.
My boy isn't dumb or stupid or retarded........he's just himself and a little different. I didn't put this up here to brag or anything just to let you guys know there is a lot of this around. Don't ever lose any hope that these kids will be ok. It's up to us to guide and teach them the way they learn....they can and they will."
Now, during this month, I'll print more from Lowell (there's even more to this awesome story!), but, for a mo, let's look back at three important points he made:
1. The key to finding what works for an autistic child is that he/she learns things differently.
2. Don't ever lose any hope that these kids will be ok. It's up to us to guide and teach them the way they learn ... they can and they will!
3. If you've an autistic child, remember the words that Lowell spoke ... and carry it as a banner throughout this month-long campaign: My boy isn't dumb or stupid or retarded........he's just himself and a little different.
Now, since this is a blog normally dedicated to rock-n-roll, let's tie it in: Two of the best-known performers in the genre are also autistic -- one took an Airplane to great heights whilst another liked Cars.
Right: Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane and the inimitable Gary Numan.
And let's not forget one of the most rockin' actors ever to come outta TinselTown. Not only is he a National Treasure to many, but he has to Face Off against this disorder every day.
Right again: Nick Cage (whom I've recently been privileged to get to know and call "friend").
So let's stand with every child who has autism ... show our support at every turn. They're all superstars ... and God bless every parent who work/has worked with them!!
Remember Lowell's words (amplified here to include both genders):
My son/daughter isn't dumb or stupid or retarded........he/she's just himself and a little different.