I’m told my son is not on the autism spectrum, but in my mind that doesn’t matter. World Autism Awareness Day is equally as important to me whether he is or not. I might never find the exact “label” for my son but, just like so many parents with a special needs child, I worry about what the future holds in store for him. What I want – and what every parent of a child with disabilities wants – is to know he will grow up in a world that accepts him for who he is, can see his unique talents and offers him the opportunities every other person is given.
I’m grateful for World Autism Awareness Day and the spotlight it focuses on the need for acceptance of those with disabilities and research into cures. I’m happy that my son wasn’t born 30 years ago when there was ignorance and intolerance (although that still exists far too much.) And, while for many, it’s the children we think of most, what about the millions of adults who have autism? How many times have they been turned down in a job interview because they couldn’t answer the questions properly? What happens to those individuals who can’t live completely independently but who no longer have family to help them?
I’ve been blessed with having a special needs’ son. Yes, there are some days that I certainly don’t feel that way. In fact this morning was one of them when I felt a little sorry for myself for the inordinate amount of patience I need to have and work I need to do. But, as most families with a special needs’ child will tell you, they’ve learned the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.
All I can hope is that as our society becomes more aware of autism and other special needs, we will learn to appreciate the gifts that every individual contributes to society. I hope our communities will realize that accommodations made in the workplace, in housing choices, transportation and, most importantly, relationships will benefit us all.
Alison Jacobson is the President of Accessible Home Living, which provides accessibility and disability remodeling for seniors and the disabled in Fairfield County, Westchester County and Putnam County. In addition to designing handicap accessible bathrooms, installing wheel chair ramps, stairlifts and widening doorways, we also custom design handicap accessible modular home additions for people who need a caregiver but are looking for an alternative to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Accessible Home Living’s aging in place home designs incorporate universal design for accessibility for seniors and disabled individuals. Our Certified Aging In Place specialists work with families to create beautiful, handicap accessible living environments.