I just returned from “Autism Around the World,” an event sponsored by University of California, Davis Mind Institute.
My daughter (who is autistic), my son and I attended. We had no idea what to expect.
There were families, teachers, regional centers, city officials, doctors, lawyers, researchers and hundreds of beautiful autistic children from all over the world.
My son and I knew we had just entered a world that was much like the one we live in our home. Except this was my daughter’s world. A world that thanked, acknowledged and brought awareness to children with autism and their families.
There were professionals such as a hair stylist from Switzerland demonstrating hair brush/cut techniques. There was a teacher from Peru who uses the sound of a flute to reduce growling from her autistic students. A dentist from India who talked about making one of his exam rooms autistic-friendly. An American lawyer who specializes in family court cases that involve issues of autism.
There were married couples who are dealing with the stresses of autism while holding their relationships together.
My son talked with other siblings about their lives with autistic siblings and how they handle things.
When I thought about writing this letter, at first it was because I did not understand why there was not one professional person from Del Norte County. There are many autistic children in this county. One out of 110 children in California are diagnosed every year.
As I processed all that I have learned about the world of autism over the years, I wondered why our county doesn’t have more events to heighten awareness.
I’ve often thought about moving from here to a more autistic-friendly community. But my son is finishing high school. He has hopes and dreams that need my attention.
I decided I don’t want to battle and debate this issue. Instead I want to educate and bring awareness.
Autism is a mystery, a puzzle. No two autistic children are exactly alike. There are many forms of autism, and there is no cure.
Personally, I will leave the question of what causes it to others who want that fight.
For me, it’s about everyday life.
My daughter doesn’t use silverware. She wears ear muffs in church. I survive getting only three to four hours a sleep a night.
It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for each child. There are no better care-givers than family.
Autistic children are human. That’s all they need to know. It’s enough.
Ignorance keeps it from being enough for so many others. Would you know autism if you saw it?
Summer Moore is a Crescent City resident.