When I tell people about my boys they often ask "when do you have time to write?" The answer is "whenever I can steal a few minutes." The other answer is "November."
My oldest has Asperger's Syndrome. The next one down has High-Functioning Autism. Then the youngest son has Mild to Moderate Autism. The easiest way to explain the difference is that we're trying to get the younger boys to talk more and the oldest not to talk as much.
Currently it's our youngest son who is the biggest challenge. He is tall and strong for his age, and has aggression issues. He is improving a bit every day, but needs constant supervision. He's bright, and cheerful and loving. He's also the reason why all flours and other baking ingredients must be locked up (he loves watching things fall). He only goes to school for two hours each day right now. And he has at times run off. In autism this is called "elopement." Of course we families have another term for it, "scary." Like I said, life is interesting.
Our family is really very lucky though. It's hard to remember that some days, but we are. Our boys are smart and affectionate. There is no epilepsy or retardation. There is hope for the future, because they are all making progress. They adore their little sister, and she loves them right back. She will grow up more sensitive to those who are different.
It's a difficult life, but it is also rewarding. We don't go to ball games or zoos. We don't take vacations. The park or a restaurant is still a gamble for us. There is even one family member who won't invite us to her house more than once a year. None of that matters when one of my boys looks up and says "I love you Mom" or hands me a flower he picked for me. It's not the life we expected, but we can still find joy in it even amidst our fears and challenges.
On to the awareness part. If you don't know much about autism, please take this month as an opportunity to learn. It's not just Rain Man (which I have to admit I've never seen). It's not bad parenting, as many, many people still say. It's not one thing either. Each child on the spectrum is different and has different challenges and symptoms. There is speculation that some of the greatest minds in human history were on the spectrum: Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, the list goes on and on. Different can be challenging, but it is not always bad