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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Why World Autism Day Matters to Me

Apr 03, 2024 08:45AM ● By Debra Wallace Forman

As we celebrate World Autism Day on April 2, it is time to celebrate Adam, my 18-year-old son with autism, who navigates the world with a kind and tender heart. He has opened my eyes to the importance of accepting, including, and appreciating each of our children’s unique gifts and talents, instead of focusing on their quirks and shortcomings.

Currently, 1 in 36 children has been diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means that most of us know or love a child, teen, or adult with autism.

As a well-meaning ‘Mama Lion’ who will always protect, defend, and help her cub, I am struggling to find a way to foster his independence. This is a precarious dance that we do every single day. As a devoted advocate for my son, I have always refused to believe the naysayers who have been quick to tell me what Adam cannot do and will never be able to do. They want me to decrease my expectations for him so neither of us is disappointed. I have always refused.

So, let’s spend today celebrating the loving, caring, and empathetic young man I have the privilege of calling my son, and for goodness’ sake, stop putting Adam and his peers in the boxes that society has carved out for them.  Never ever stop embracing their dreams, goals, and desires.

I believe with all my heart that every parent and child can step over those stumbling blocks and soar to new heights if love, tenacity, and desire are there.

Debra Wallace Forman is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings.