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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

Autism Acceptance Month from a veteran Autism Mom

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I helped my boy get dressed today, as I do each morning-

“One foot in sweetheart,” I quietly instructed, going through the familiar motions.

I checked the calendar for a quick run down of our day-

April 1st.

The start of Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month.

Letting out a sigh, I hurried off to gather items for Leo’s therapy sessions, my mind wandering to those earlier days, when excitement was all abuzz, as April neared.

When we’d wear blue to commemorate the day-

And Facebook posts and videos depicting individuals on the spectrum, and their incredible journeys were shared with reckless abandon-

Headlines like, “Nonverbal at 3, and Now attending College.”

Inspiring stories of growth, giving hope to parents such as myself, longing for a similar reality to hold onto.

Yet today, as this year’s Autism Acceptance month is upon us, my mind is no longer occupied by whether or not Leo will speak, or attend college.

His future, uniquely his and just as inspiring regardless of the headline.

I worry about the stark Inequities Leo and others within our society face each day-

Discrimination in the schools, and elsewhere.

The lack of training for those in authority positions caring for our children on a daily basis- stories like the aide stapling a reminder to her Autistic student’s head, an all too frequent occurrence, and a painful reminder of the abuse students face, often in silence.

A broken system…

And those left, without a voice.

I’m grateful for this month-

For the stories of hope...

And that a beautiful community of individuals, my boy included, are being celebrated on such a grand scale.

But it feels different, somehow…

difficult to explain, in many ways.

As I knelt down to tie his shoes before leaving for therapy, Leo giggled sweetly, amused by something unclear to me in the moment, yet of no matter-

My boy was happy.

I’ll continue to fight for his happiness, his safety,

for his acceptance-

This month, and beyond.

Ellie Whetzel is a wife, Mom, and blogger who writes about the ups, the downs, and everything in between of life with her extraordinary son, Leo, who is on the Autism Spectrum. You can follow their journey on FB at

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