Just like all parents I want my daughter to be happy with who she is. In general she is a confident, loving teenager but when she is struggling, when her days are at their worst, I know she needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel as much as I do. Ever since the tragedy in Connecticut and the barrage of news media linking the shooter to autism, I've struggled to battle the negativity. I've taken extra care to make sure she doesn't see the coverage but she is a teenager, and just like any parent of a teenager, I cannot keep her in a bubble and I know she has heard things I would rather her never hear. Last week, several parents began highlighting the positive in their children with autism in an attempt to fight the negative weighting on us all. It began with a single picture. [caption id="attachment_2444" align="aligncenter" width="664"] (image courtesy of http://newbabynews.blogspot.com)[/caption] And then another [caption id="attachment_2445" align="aligncenter" width="612"] (image courtesy of http://www.mostlytruestuff.com/)[/caption] and then another [caption id="attachment_2446" align="aligncenter" width="900"] (image courtesy of http://fourplusanangel.com)[/caption] and so many more followed that a social media campaign began. Since it's inception, just a few days before Christmas, Autism Shines has started a facebook page and a website and it has shined. The faces of so many children, teens and adults with autism have been shared with the many amazing qualities they hold. Looking at these faces and seeing the hope in their stories has helped me, but it has helped someone else I know so much more. I have peeked over my teenager's shoulder to see her scrolling through the pages and pages of people like her. She has called me over to show me the face of someone else who likes Food Network or someone who went to college or someone wearing yellow, her favorite color. I want her to be proud of herself, to be happy with who she is and the part of her that is Autism. And she is. She is just as proud to be a part of this community as I am. As I look at these families and see the support bursting through the screen I can't help but feel like we are all in this together and feel the hope glowing in every photo. We have amazing children and we will continue to look past their label and see each of them as the beautiful, shining lights they are. For more information on Autism Shines or to submit your own photo visit on facebook or their brand new shiny website.
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