Going Out into the World as Autism Family

30 Apr

April gave our family many opportunities to go out not only because of beautiful weather but because of autism awareness. We had an autism awareness fair and A.skate and our local YMCA chapter hosted a Healthy Kids Day. We also took advantage of the beach and The King and I managed a date night.

We aren’t shut-in because of autism normally. Far from it. But it takes some work and some doing to have successful outings as any family with young children and much more so when you factor in autism. At events like Healthy Kids Day or the Autism Awareness Fair, we typically split up and one person has The Princess while the other two have the boys. As the boys have gotten older, we’ve found we can allow them a little more freedom at events and tag team with The Princess.

New places are always dicey. We don’t know if there will be anything that might set The Princess off with sensory issues. We don’t know where things are so it can be hard to make a quick escape if things go south. But we try new things more and more as The Princess has better regulation methods and is learning more social skills at school. Not to mention has better communication.

It makes me sad to think there are families who feel unwelcome in most settings because of autism and don’t go out. I understand the frustration of encountering hateful people. I realize that attempting to educate those who stare is pretty unrealistic. But with baby steps, it can be overcome.

On Saturday, at the Healthy Kids Day, we had an extraordinary opportunity. The King took the boys around while The Princess and I hung out at the Oneness Through Art booth. The Princess and I got to do arts and crafts with neuro-typical children and introduce them to autism. Florentina, the autistic artist we worked with and The Princess acted as de-facto ambassadors for autism through art. We met so many new people and people who were interested in learning more about autism and kids who asked me questions about autism and The Princess. Kids who interacted with her. I never expected a simple arts and crafts activity to help spread awareness in that way AND make for a successful outing. By  the time The King and the boys looped around to get us and make a craft we could not believe how much The Princess was enjoying herself.

We self-identify as an autism family by choice, but sometimes, we don’t have to specifically state it. But even in those moments, the social outing was not a loss. We might have learned something that didn’t work. Or something new that sets The Princess off. Or how our boys react. And in the moments when we do self-identify, I am always so blessed to see how my boys do. For them, autism has always been in their lives. They know no different, so they aren’t afraid to challenge what society thinks The Princess should be. And knowing I am raising little boys who will grow up to be men that stand up for what they believe and their sister is a feeling so empowering it makes me want to get up and try again.

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