Before the Navigator was diagnosed, I had a limited awareness of Autism. I had heard of Autism and had some knowledge of its more severe examples.

I did not understand that it was a spectrum disorder or the million different ways that Autism uniquely manifests in each individual. I did not understand what Autism acceptance might look like or the importance of respecting those on the Autism spectrum.

If I could go back and talk to myself about Autism, I would lay out the path of learning like this:

Awareness - Just the Beginning

It is not enough to be aware that Autism exists. Understanding specific examples of what Autism looks like across the spectrum is needed.

And when one understands more about all the different ways Autism manifests, people can learn what they can do to promote acceptance across the spectrum. With acceptance can come respect for each individual on the spectrum.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism awareness is needed for people with a limited knowledge, like I had before my son was diagnosed, but it is also important to share the message that awareness is just the beginning.

People need to learn about Autism awareness, and then

I invite you to walk with me on this path of learning. Share your examples and your lessons-learned and we can help teach others.

Thanks to M. Kelter at Invisible Strings for his genius in defining “Autism Respect” as the ultimate goal on the path of learning. [Update – 04/2016 – Invisible Strings is currently not a live site – I am looking forward to when M. Kelter resumes blogging.]

Originally published on Autism Mom April 2015.