You see them everywhere. They come in a variety of colors. The advocacy bracelet is everywhere these days.
I wear one of my blue autism bracelets rather frequently (I have one from Autism Speaks and one I picked up at the FSU Autism Center). Before today, I had not paid much attention to the writing on the one from FSU CARD. It has 5 words imprinted: Expand, Express, Embrace, Engage, and Enable, and I started to think what they meant to me.
Expand: I think being an advocate for autism means expanding knowledge and awareness. I have tried to continually expand what I know about autism, and try to relay that to friends and family.
Express: As a caregiver and self-proclaimed advocate, it is on me to express challenges, obstacles, and victories that we experience with Kaitlyn.
Embrace: Amber and I have had to fully embrace the quirks and traits that Kaitlyn has. We have to show patience when she starts to drive us crazy, and understand that she is an amazing child that will educate us if we let her.
Engage: We have to be willing to engage family and friends and be willing to discuss autism and Asperger’s. We have to understand that people do not have, in general, a lot of awareness about autism, so the more we engage them, the more we will raise awareness.
Enable: If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know it is my goal to to whatever is necessary to enable Kaitlyn to be successful. She has challenges and obstacles and it is my job, and Amber’s job, to fight to make sure she gets a fair shot.
I don’t know if I live up to my expectations for each of these 5 areas, but I try very hard every day. I hold myself to high standards in these areas, and can improve in all of them.