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Today, April 2, is National Autism Awareness Day

Jaron Riggs
My son Jaron / TSM
Although April is reserved for Autism Awareness Month (which I still think should be Autism Acceptance Month) April 2nd is considered the day for Autism Awareness Day. It’s hard to describe Autism without exaggerating or downplaying any of the symptoms.

To me, having children with autism has taught me more about patience and understanding for our fellow man more than anything. In high school, those with autism were usually just called ‘weird’ or ‘odd’. Maybe they didn’t know how to express themselves, verbally, or maybe the smallest thing would make them freak out.

My son is very driven. If he sees something he wants, he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. For instance, if he wants M&Ms (his favorite treat) and he knows they’re in the top shelf of the cupboard, he’ll pull a chair up to the counter to climb up. Even if I tell him, “No!” and push the chair back to the table, he’ll reposition the chair back to the counter – and he’ll do it right in front of me.

He’s also very brilliant. He loves getting into the fridge to pour himself a glass of milk. He would do this any time of day and, at first, would often spill it on the floor. We bought a door lock for the refrigerator, but that didn’t stop him. Within minutes he figure out how to unlock it. He was also nice enough to lock it back up when he grabbed what he wanted.

I’m thankful that we, here in Yakima, have a place like Children’s Village to help my children and even have Gilbert Elementary School who has classes specifically catering to children with autism. We’d be pretty lost without them.

So, in honor of Autism Awareness Day, today I’ll spend it as I always do. That’s how my son and daughter will spend it.

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