The “A” Word

It’s funny how sometimes we take life for granted. You get up in the morning and you just follow your usual routine because that’s life. But every now and then, something will happen to actually make you stop for a moment and think.

This month I have been surprised by a few people who have stopped me to say that they read our Autism blogs and they are impressed by how open we are about our son’s Autism diagnosis. They asked why I choose to be so open about it and my response was, “Why not”? For me, it was a conscious decision to be open about Jayden’s Autism. I guess it was for a couple of reasons. The first reason was because we felt it was important for people to understand why in some social settings Jayden would not feel comfortable, or why he learns differently. It wasn’t so much about telling people Jayden has Autism, but rather to help people understand him better so that he would feel more included and accepted. The other reason is because I am trying to remove the stigma with the “A” word. Why do some people see Autism as a dirty word? I’ll be honest, when I was first told about Jayden’s diagnosis, I remember feeling like we had lost a part of our son. But now looking back, I cannot understand why I felt that way. Jayden has always been the same loving, funny, caring person. Being diagnosed with Autism didn’t change who he was. And then I realised the reason Autism has such a stigma is because people (including me) don’t understand it. Probably because to start with, it is described as a ‘disorder’. But why is it a disorder? Is being different really a disorder?

I decided it was important to educate myself, so I started to learn what Autism meant. It was a whole new world to me, but it was beautiful, and I wanted to share it. I wanted people to see it is not a disorder, it is just the way the brain thinks. And honestly, don’t we all think a little differently? I wanted to try and get people to stop and think before they make comments like “Oh! He doesn’t look Autistic”. Why do we expect people with ‘disorders’ to look a certain way? Don’t we all look different to each other? I wanted to try and open people’s minds a bit, and to see things from a different perspective.

I was honoured this week to be chosen by a fellow lawyer as part of her challenge to meet 30 lawyers in 30 days to discuss our career pathways and why we set up our own law firms. In our discussions she told me that she was impressed that I named our law firm ‘Spectrum’ in honour of our son. She also said she was impressed by our blogs and us advocating for more knowledge on Autism. After our meeting, I sat back and thought about this for quite a while. I was the one that was impressed and honoured that people were taking the time to read these blogs and think about what it means for all families who may have children on the SPECTRUM. Whether that be Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, etc – there are so many families out there with beautiful children who are just a little different. These families are working hard to adapt their lives to make things more comfortable for their children when they need the extra space, extra time, or extra understanding. Children on the SPECTRUM are smart, capable, and intriguing. They have so much they can teach us about the world – probably more than we’ll teach them because they take the time to understand every element and look at the world in such detail, where we often take things for granted.

So, to those that have approached me this month to ask why we talk about Autism so openly, I want to thank you. Because you reiterated to me why talking about taboo subjects is so important. To normalise Autism for us is critical for our son to live the fullest life possible.

We would like to give a shout out to all those that have approached us over the last month (or more) to say they appreciate our blogs, because you too are doing a remarkable job managing work, families, therapies, appointments, and life in this crazy COVID world! Pat yourself on the back at the same time you are acknowledging what we do, because you are doing an amazing job too!

Thank you also to those that approached me about possible topics we could explore a little further (watch this space in our upcoming blogs)… we appreciate and welcome your feedback.

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