World Autism Day 2022

Categories: Parent Perspective
Happy World Autism Day! As the mother of an autistic son, I appreciate the world taking a day to honor what life is like for families like mine. Because, from education to the community to home, life with autism differs from life without.
Some autistic children can succeed in a general education classroom, but they likely have accommodations, such as longer times to complete tasks or visual schedules. They may be pulled out for specialized instruction or therapies. But some general education settings can’t meet the needs of students with autism. Those students may need special education self-contained placement. Still, other autistic children, like my son, can’t attend public school at all. And require schools specifically designed for children on the spectrum.
After the last bell rings, many school-aged children enjoy extracurriculars, such as baseball practice or piano lessons. But children, like my son, often spend their afternoons in more specialized instruction, such as speech, occupational, or behavior therapy or social skills groups.
And weekends and holidays, when many families head out to enjoy what their communities offer, families like mine must choose wisely. The sensory overload from sights, smells, and sounds from places like shopping malls, theme parks, and restaurants can be overwhelming to autistic individuals. Often the potential fallout isn’t worth the risk.
Even at home, families impacted by autism must work to create structured routines and minimize disruptions to those routines. Because autistic individuals are more prone to danger than their non-autistic peers, families must amp up safety measures, be constantly alert, and be ready to act quickly if a situation goes awry.
But, thanks to initiatives such as World Autism Day and Autism Awareness month, schools and communities are starting to learn how to accommodate autistic individuals better. Some theme parks offer a virtual spot in long attraction lines and sensory-friendly quiet rooms. Places like dentist and doctors’ offices will often allow families to bring in an autistic patient ahead of an appointment, so they know what to expect. Movie theaters and live entertainment often offer sensory-friendly times where lights are dimmed, volume is lowered, and autistic attendees are welcome to walk around to sing, dance, or just move while they enjoy the show. Police and first responders are learning about autism and how to respond effectively and safely in situations involving individuals on the spectrum.

April after April, the world is slowly learning more about autism, and knowledge promotes change. Each time even one classroom or business evolves to be more accessible for autistic individuals, society inches away from accommodation and toward inclusion.

I believe in my son’s lifetime; I can stop worrying about how to prepare him for the world because the world will have caught up. One day, instead of my son having to attend a school for autistic children, every classroom in every school across the country will be equipped to fill his needs. One day, he’ll be able to play baseball rather than attend therapy because his coach will have the necessary training to teach him the social skills he’s lacking. One day, I won’t have to check ahead because every shopping mall, airport, and theme park will feature a sensory-friendly quiet room where he can self-regulate. One day, I hope—I believe—that World Autism Day will be every day because the world belongs to everyone.

1 Comment

  1. My Great Grandson is 6yrs old and is homeschooled and doing real well. A friends daughter is 9yrs old and is Autistic and nonverbal. She is so loving and goes to special school. I pray so hard she will talk one day.


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