I have a confession. The thing that I dreaded most about this trip was…The Autism Show.
Even though that was the impetus. And PanKwake’s choice to go. She wanted to purchase new sensory toys for the sensory room that we are planning. It has been two years but she clearly remembered the last one and really wanted the chance to touch and try them out before buying.
But for me…all I remembered was bright lights, big crowds, and the feel of desperation like unto a snake oil side show. I hated the last one even though I had gone to both days. The first alone and then with PanKwake and her dad.
Expensive private schools making promises they cannot deliver. Too many purveyors of THAT therapy meant to ‘extinguish’ harmless coping mechanisms like stimming and echolalia….for the comfort of neurotypicals. And of course THE major charity that funds research into ‘cures’.
So I was NOT looking forward to this one. I was even all geared up for it, having made another special t-shirt just for the day that said Proud Mom of a #HappilyAutistic Human. I was certain that would stir things up and garner loads of nasty stares.
And yes, all those things were there.
But this year there was something new.
A more autism friendly environment.
The lights were dimmer. There seemed to be fewer stalls. They were certainly further apart with more room to move, less cramped feel to it. Of course, by its nature there was nothing to be done for the crowds…it is a trade show after all.
But what truly shocked and pleased me was…a new attitude among the parents. I watched one man with his toddler on a leash…being lead around. The dad lead by the child not the other way around. (And before you freak…parents put neurotypical kids that age in the same gadget.)
The funniest moment was when this man only a bit younger than I am was rocking gently to self-soothe. His mother came up and said something. In a loud clear voice he replied, ‘All these people are just here to make money off us.’ I love that…the frank honesty of autism.
Yes, PanKwake got loads and loads and loads of new sensory toys too. I don’t even have any idea of how much her dad spent as this one was on him.
But overall…between the helpful nature of the hotel staff and Legoland…the new look of the Autism Show…and especially the attitudes of the parents and the general public in the trains, busses and shops…
Gives Me Hope!
I do believe that the world it is a changin’. That it is becoming more ACCEPTING of autism.
Is it fast enough? Far enough? I don’t know. Certainly the #actuallyautistic adults that I am hearing from would say NO. And I can appreciate that.
As with Downs Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and even cancer, it is the cute kids like PanKwake that are the ‘poster children’ of autism. It is more acceptable for her to be overcome by sensory overload and meltdown than it is for an adult to need accommodation in the workplace.
The thing is that as the saying goes…
Yes, we may have a long way to go. But I am surprised at how far we have already travelled. And more hopeful for PanKwake’s future now than before I went to the Autism Show. That is a markedly different outcome than I expected.
Oh, and those t-shirts? No one even batted an eye at them. I guess we aren’t the only…
ones outs there?
The times they are a changin’!
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.