The Sun and the Moon

April is Autism Awareness Month. Yet I find autism awareness tough to explain. Most people are aware that autism exists. There are very few people who have not heard the term or who haven’t come into contact with someone who knows someone with autism. The problem is in explaining how Bridget and her friend Zach can be the same age, both have autism yet they are as different as the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon are both stars, after all. Yet they present completely differently.

Bridget is social. Zach has to be prompted to interact.

Zach is starting to pre-read. Bridget is starting to recognize letters.

Bridget is easily distracted. Zach can utter the words “let’s go Friendly’s” for hours without pause.

Zach knows the routine of school. Bridget acts like every day is a brand new experience.

Bridget is affectionate. Zach is affectionate, with prompting.

Zach is verbal without an interpreter. Bridget is verbal if someone is there to translate.

Bridget has an unreasonable fear snow. Zach enjoys the snow.

Zach rarely makes eye contact.  Bridget will trap you by her gaze.

Both of Zach and Bridget wander. Both Bridget and Zach think Frozen is the best movie, ever.

Both Zach and Bridget attend special education classes. Both Bridget and Zach are loved by their classmates.

Both Zach’s mom and Bridget’s mom wonders what is autism and what is personality.

Zach and Bridget each have autism, yet their autism is as different as their hair color.

This is where awareness happens. When people begin to realize that autism isn’t easily defined. That when you see a child with autism, you see one aspect of their personality. When you encounter Bridget you will encounter a completely different person than Zach.

Autism doesn’t define our children, it is just one part of their definition.

Just as being a star is just one part of the moon’s definition.

6 thoughts on “The Sun and the Moon

  1. thelatchkeymom

    I love this. “Autism isn’t easily define.” Yes! I also like the line, if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.

    This also really resonated with me, when you wrote about the moms wondering “what is autism and what is personality. I do that all the time.

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  2. lrconsiderer

    The moon is a moon. The sun is a star :p

    But I geddit – Zach is a Zach and Bridget is a Bridget and I’m probably still an idiot for making my point, but I DO get yours 🙂

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  3. Dana

    This is so important to know, Kerri. Many people outside of the special needs community have such a limited view of autism, and may not realize how each person with autism is can present so differently from another. And your comment about personality is so interesting…it proves that autism doesn’t define the person.

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  4. K

    Love this!! Your words really resonated with me, Kerri – especially because, yesterday evening, I attended a colloquium in which the speaker was a man who has Asperger’s. The premise of his speech was that he wouldn’t be who he is without his autism (and he credits it to much of his success!), but also that you can’t define who a person is on the basis of an autism diagnosis.

    I love your words, as always. They ring true for me on a more personal level as well; my brother is on the spectrum too, but that’s just one of the many reasons why he’s awesome.

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  5. tamaralikecamera

    I think with all the confusion even within the autism community, there is plenty outside of it. I imagine that each individual with autism is as unique as can be.

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  6. Kristi Campbell - findingninee

    I wonder what is personality and what is (maybe) autism or developmental delays or quirks or whatever and you’re so right – it doesn’t define our amazing superhero kids! Sorry (again) that I tanked on participating but I think I’m going to do something similar and link back. ❤

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