Blue is everywhere.
It is the colour of the sky (mostly!); it is the colour that calms us down; it is a colour of hope; it is my own favourite colour to wear in all its shades; and it is colour of my favourite football team – Manchester City.
It is also the colour that has been adopted today for World Autism Day – “Light it up blue for April 2”.
I would like to contribute a little to raising the awareness of autism if I may. It is something that I feel strongly about, and my feeling is that it is something that affects more people than we perhaps think it does, because it manifests itself in so many different ways and sometimes, what we see as “naughty” children, or “odd” adults, is actually behaviour that belongs on the autistic spectrum.
I have two friend who have children with autism and I know their lives are more difficult and challenging in many ways than the life I had when my children were young. I will call them M and J to protect them, but M is a 3 year old girl and J is a 6 year old boy. They both have older sisters (who are friends with each other).
J loves water and absolutely adores bouncing on his trampoline. He is severely autistic and has sensory processing disorder too, which means that he is under sensitive to certain stimuli and over sensitive to others. To help him process his environment he turns to the things that he does understand – bouncing, and unfortunately for the house, water play. He regularly floods the house and as his mum says, there isn’t a ceiling in the house that doesn’t have a water stain on it! He is loved and cherished by his family, he loves going to school and is thriving there.
M has just started nursery school and has recently been diagnosed with autism. Her autism is not as severe as J’s, but even so, she presents challenging behaviours which are difficult to deal with for her family. She loves Minnie Mouse and watches episodes of her cartoons on YouTube and Netflix…in Spanish! She has got some other health problems too which has meant she has had to go into hospital for treatment recently, which was traumatic for both M and her parents because it was not something she could process. As with J, she is loved and cherished by her family and is getting to love the routine of going to school every day.
Now, I have given you a tiny little snapshot of two children I know who both have autism, but there are hundreds of thousands of other children in the world who could tell you about their lives and they will be as different from each other as M and J are. The whole purpose of World Autism Day is to raise awareness of the spectrum and to help educate people who may not know what autism is, and how it presents itself in behaviour in children. If you would like to know more about it, or if you think your own child is displaying signs of autism, please have a look at the following website and be encouraged to go and seek the help and support of others.