Earlier today, I happened to read a twitter post from @K_Dad: “Noah’s going for a haircut this afternoon. Wish us luck. #autism #parenting” I tweeted back: “Try rubbing or scratching his head beforehand.” The result: “Noah’s haircut went very well. Thanx to @JHolverstott for the tip re: rubbing the scalp beforehand. #autism #parenting.” Two tweets improved a mundane, but often horrible experience for a child with autism and his family. So, again, why does the communication shutdown make sense?
By now, if you have followed my tweets or perused this blog at all, you may have noticed that I stand outside the pale on this issue of shutting down social media outlets to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorders on November 1, 2010. I’ve taken love and loathing on my thoughts, which has helped me solidify my stance on this issue.
Let’s stop just throwing money at an issue when what the issue also needs face time. On November 1, with all of your spare time, pick one of these. After all, you know how the old saying goes: Put your money where your mouth is.
1. Respite: Do you know a family with a child with an ASD? Offer to provide respite for them — just an hour or even time for dinner and a movie.
2. Volunteer: Find your local autism society’s chapter or parent support group and offer to provide childcare during the meeting. As a result, more parents can attend the meeting because they don’t have to hire a babysitter or skip the meeting all together.
3. Job Opportunities: Could you let a individual with ASD shadow or volunteer at your job site? Do you have skills you could teach to someone on the spectrum? I’ve found vets, computer repair shops, and cartoonists willing to share their expertise and even a paycheck.
4. Do You Drive?: A local community member teaches individuals with ASD to drive. He has taught TEN of my clients, who vowed never to drive. Thank you, Dale.
5. Sports: We all know about Special Olympics. Most local YMCAs also offer special needs divisions for sports like flag football, basketball, bocce ball, and bowling. Coach or play or both.
6. Go Old School (Read): Rather than Twitter, or Facebook, or Tumblr, or whatever, why not spend your time reading about the spectrum — online, even! Try this selection from the Life Journey Through Autism series by the Organization for Autism Research.
If you have an idea for how to build awareness, post it. Let’s continue to think critically and be helpful with our time and not just our appearances and our wallets.