Yesterday at work I wore blue and contributed to the company collection for Autism Awareness Month with great pride. I had a framed picture of Alex ready to take with me for our group photo. But then I got the call that Mindi had to take Alex out of his Early Development class because he was sick. I was heartbroken. Not just because Alex was sick, but because I couldn’t be in the group photo. I am so proud to be the father of an autistic son, my perfect little explorer who was diagnosed on the spectrum just a year ago. He has come so far in such a short period of time, my heart swells just to think about it. Our son can communicate with us now, has found his sense of humor and his personality, and he has found a shared love for running that Mindi and I will treasure for years to come. I wanted to stand in that group photo, blazing blue from head to toe, with my son’s beautiful face in my hands, and begin to tell the world Alex’s story and how proud I am of him. Instead, I headed home where he, Mindi and I played with cars, laughed at Super Grover on the iPad, went for a drive (at his request) and ended our day chasing each other around the house.
Alex was diagnosed not long before World Autism Awareness Day 2015. I remember that day well. I was flooded by an overwhelming mixture of fear and uncertainty, but also pride. We knew we were not alone on this journey, but there were so many things we could not understand, predict or control that it was hard to take pride in such a global demonstration of solidarity. Today, I hold Alex’s picture up and I understand. I’m proud to live in a world where we can globally take a moment to acknowledge the challenges that he and others like him face and say with an honest heart, “We understand. We accept you. You are special.” There is such hope for humanity in days like today, and it inspires hope in me for Alex’s future.
Thanks to all of you who wear or light up blue today. Thanks especially to the countless teachers, therapists and volunteers who work to make Alex and the other kids’ lives better every day.
Life is good.