Back in the days before Autism had an awareness month, I loved April. I loved the newness and the green smells and the budding of the trees here in the Midwest. I loved watching daffodils and tulips peek out of the earth before they sprang up in all their glories. I loved the noticeable lengthening of the days and the sunshine on my face, giving me a glimpse of what May and June promised to bring. I loved watching the rain come down, in light showers or in downpours, and leaving the grass green in its wake. But now April is Autism Awareness Month and I am often taken off guard by what that means.
April was not always National Autism Awareness Month. The first official autism awareness month was October. It is the month of my birthday and it was fine with me to have Autism Awareness Month in October. But October is also National Downs Syndrome Awareness Month and the autism community didn’t want to share their awareness with another developmental disability. Also fine with me. So National Autism Awareness Month was shifted to January. That lasted for a few years. January is right after the big winter holidays and we were told by those in the ASA office it was difficult to get people enthused about autism awareness right after the holidays. And so April was designated as NAAM and it has been for 20 years or so.
I suppose the reasoning for choosing April for NAAM is because the weather is usually better across the USA and there is more time to plan something great when school begins in late August or early September for April. We can have Walks and do things outside for Awareness and it’s easier to travel. Our Kids are in the swing of school programs and many teachers and administrators are inclined to do things as part of an established curriculum for Autism Awareness Month, both for our ASD kids and their NT peers. Pennies are collected, puzzle pieces art is displayed and Best Buddy programs are highlighted. It’s always fun to see what our local ASA chapter comes up with every year or what autism books will be part of the National Autism Awareness Month at our village’s library.
It’s a bit melancholy for me, having April as NAAM. I’ve always thought of April as a new beginning, a renewing of life. And it is. But knowing how far we’ve come and where we still have to go for awareness and acceptance makes me want to cry.
Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!