Tuesday, April 2, 2013 8:21:00 AM


by Shannon Penrod

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  If you are a person on the Autism Spectrum or a parent of a child on the spectrum this can be a bittersweet day.  It’s not as if anyone says, “Yippee!  World Autism Awareness Day!  Let’s fire up the grill and put some drinks on ice!”  No.  It’s not that kind of day.  And the day after World Autism Awareness Day it’s not as if we all say, “Whew! Well at least we’re done with that for another year!”  No.  For those of us in the Autism community, Autism and Autism awareness are not things that pop up for one fine day in spring, they are an everyday thing for us.

So…this World Autism Awareness Day….is it a good thing or bad thing?  One of the things Autism taught me early on is that quantifying things as either good or bad is a monumental waste of valuable time.  So I count Autism Awareness day as marker…How are we doing?  Is my son’s world larger or smaller this year? Thankfully it is larger. Are there more kids with Autism this year than last? The tragic answer is always “Yes.”  Are there more ways to help kids on the spectrum this year? Maybe but the funding still isn’t there. Are we doing enough to help our older kids on the spectrum?  The tragic answer here is always, “No!”  Is there more work to be done?  “Yes. Always.” 

I celebrate the victories; acknowledge the losses and then I do what I think World Autism Awareness Day was meant for.  For me this is Autism Pride Day. I square my shoulders, raise my head and walk through the world with the proper pride of being an Autism parent.  I walk tall for my son; heaven knows he has earned having a proud mom.  I smile so that other parents who are newer to this dance see that it is survivable.  I keep walking…for myself, because to stop is to say that I am done with Autism.  Not today.

When I’m lucky I get to hold hands with other proud members of this community.  These are my heroes.  They give me strength when I am weary and discouraged.  They remind me that this club that we belong to…the one that none of us signed up for…if filled with the most amazing people on earth.  And if you are willing to let go of the “good” and the “bad” you will often make room for the “amazing.” 

Shannon Penrod is the host of the popular web show Autism Live which can be viewed Monday - Friday at 1pm Eastern Time at www.autism-live.com  Tune in during National Autism Awareness Month and take part in Compassion in Action!  How will you show your compassion this April?  Shannon will shave her head, on April 8 during the live show, to show compassion for a young Dad with cancer.