I saw a different side of awareness the other day.
I was in the car with two friends, driving to an autism resource fair. It was Saturday, April 2nd. World Autism Awareness Day. My friend in the driver’s seat has a child with Asperger’s. My other friend’s son was diagnosed this past fall with PDD-NOS. He’s three.
My friends were in the front seat talking about running and other such things. I was enjoying sitting in the back seat alone, something I rarely get to do.
I tuned back into the conversation when I heard my friend in the passenger seat say “Did you know that the Boston Garden had blue lights on for autism?”
“Ask Alysia”, she said. “She has a blue shirt on today.”
My friend turned around to me. “You know about this?”
“I do, ” I said. I explained that April was Autism Awareness Month, and that as part of the “Light It Up Blue” campaign, landmarks all over the world were turning on blue lights. I rattled off the list: Fenway Park, the Prudential Building, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the statue of Jesus in Brazil…
“They were even trying to get the White House to turn blue for the day.” I said.
My friend’s eyes grew wide. And they got teary.
All she could do was mouth the word “wow” to me. And then she turned around and was quiet for a moment.
Right then I realized the importance of the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. Yes, it’s just a symbol. But for a mother who is still struggling with everything related to her son’s diagnosis, it meant much more than that. It showed her that for one day the world stood with her. And as she attempts to understand what is happening with her child and as she fights to get her son all the help and services he needs, she now knows that there are others fighting along side her. All over the globe.
Before this, I thought of the awareness campaign as a way to help people not connected to autism learn more about it. My friend reminded me that it’s also about showing people within the community that they are not alone. That there are others who understand and will accept her son as he is. That we will be here to help her get through the difficult days.
It is for my friend that our yellow house is now blue.
“Blue moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.
Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for someone I really could care for.” – Blue Moon lyrics