Guest Blog Post Written By Florence Bracy
As a mother of a 28-year-old son who has autism, I am finding myself 90 days in the midst of the world’s second pandemic of modern times. I have to reimagine, retool, and re-up my next steps with my 28-year-old son. We are in the midst of a world vortex, from the George Floyd killing to the world pandemic and economic downturn. The state of the world has caused me to reevaluate my life with my disabled son. Also, I have had to reevaluate my priorities in advocating for him. My son is a young black man. More than that, no one is talking about Autism matters…
We Need to Talk About Autism Awareness
We went through March, April, May, like a whisper in the night. There was little acknowledgment of autism during Autism Awareness Month. And there was no mention of it in the media. But, just like Black Lives Matters - Autism Matters.
Our adult children are growing up in this ever-changing world. I've been listening to how our country is changing proposed law enforcement accountability policies for the black, young, poor, gay, and elderly. But, what policies are in place to change the universal training for the police to encourage positive interactions with those who live with neurodiversity? There are smatterings of trainings here and there. But, there is no mention of a law enforcement accountability policy across the board for the developmentally disabled.
As an Autism Parent, I Worry About My Adult Son's Future
I remember one day when Brad was 18, we stopped at a gas station with a mini-market. I had recently taught him how to pump gas. Anticipating that my teaching skills had worked, I gave him the money and practiced with him before he got out of the car. We role-played how to tell the cashier; which pump, the amount of gas we needed, and the kind of gas. Sitting there in my car viewing him in line from afar, I was hoping that he would remember my instructions.
I noticed while in line to pay, that my 6’0” 120lb. son was starting to stir. He was doing the nervous autism flap (flapping his arms like he is ready to fly off) and adjusting his pants, which is a nervous twitch he has. Perched in the corner of the store was a policeman on duty in the market. He got out of his seat and approached Brad, asking with his deep commanding voice, ‘Is there a problem, young man?’ Now, the simple task of paying for gas was turning into a potential ‘situation.’ So, I jumped out of my car, rushed to the policeman, and explained to the officer that my son has autism. I told him that he is not a danger to anyone despite his nervous twitch.
So yes, like all mothers and fathers of adults with autism, I worry about my adult son being stopped by the police, because of his autism ticks, flaps, and jerks.
Autism Parents, Now Is The Time For Change. Now is the Time for More Autism Advocacy
So, I am reimagining a world where my son and our adult children can safely walk the streets. Where they can live their lives without being harmed by those who are there to protect us. I am challenging myself to re-up and energize myself in order to spread the concern that neurodiversity and developmental disability training needs to be implemented. It is so important for the 3.5 million people in the world who have an ASD. We need our children’s safety to be secured. Because Autism does Matter….
About The Author:
Florence currently serves as a member of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Intervention, a California state-wide group that gives advice on policy for the developmentally disabled. When Florence is not writing, she enjoys walking in charity fundraisers, gardening, cooking new recipes, playing with her dog Lucy, and spending time with her family.
Florence Bracy is an author, advocate, and speaker. She facilitates a zoom format support group for parents of children and adults with autism. If interested please contact her at; www.florencebracy.com. Her book, Help Me Understand My Child, ‘A Mother’s Truth About Autism is available on amazon.com. This book serves as a road map for families, professionals, and community members who are interested in the world of autism.
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