Fear of Autism -- Seriously?

Fear is a powerful motivating factor in people's lives. It can hold us in a standstill and not allow us to move forward with major decisions. It can keep us in bad relationships and failing jobs. But it can also keep us from doing what many would agree to be a good thing.

National Autism Awareness month is quickly approaching and I've received emails from different groups for me to be involved because of my children's book on autism awareness. I'm honored with each school that asks me to attend and speak or a group in the Midwest that requests copies of books to be used as prizes in their events. It makes me feel a part of a much large movement.

But I've heard there are some school districts right here in the United States completely afraid to do anything for awareness around that month. Their excuses have been they are worried about singling out children in their school that may have autism or afraid a parent may take offense to such an event happening.

All of that sounds like fear.

Fear keeping principals and school districts immobile simply because they don't want to take a stand and can't see the good that can come from something. I'm certain organizations such as Autism Speaks would love to be able to speak directly to those school leaders that hide behind these oddly veiled reasons for not participating. As if bringing awareness to the 1 in 88 children that fall somewhere on the spectrum would be a bad thing. That creating amazing events to celebrate difference and diversity in schools would cause heartache and turmoil. That giving those very children in their schools that live in their own world daily an opportunity to allow their classmates a glimpse into that world would be detrimental to either child.

It has always amazed me when a child with autism does not allow fear to hold them back. I speak at a school about my little superhero with autism and there may be that one child in the class that actually has autism raising their hand to tell everyone they have it. Or the child in the UK who went to school dressed like my superhero on World Book Day because the book helped him see his autism from a different angle. These children do not have fear. They are putting a personal face to something that most people are hearing more and more about.

Now if only these fearful school leaders would let go and embrace the celebration as well. Isn't that what awareness is all about?