Below is a post by Angela Conrad, an advocate for her two sons with autism. She maintains a blog, Two Brothers One Journey, that details what life with autism is like.
April is a very special month to our family. Before autism, April was just an ordinary month. Now, our month is full of fun-filled activities in support of my boys and all the other children and families living with autism.
Last year my brother, Brian Tackitt, who is the head baseball coach in my home town, started having an annual autism awareness baseball game. This year, just like last year, it was an amazing day. It isn’t just a simple baseball game. My sons, Trenton, who has severe autism, and Andrew, who has mild autism, along with another local boy with autism, took turns throwing out “the first pitch”.
I held back the tears that wanted to drip from my eyes as I walked my sons out onto the baseball field. I was a three sport athlete growing up and sports are in my blood. However, having children with autism changes what is important. As many families look forward to sports, dances, weddings, and all the other typical things that Americans look forward to, families likes ours, focus on much smaller scale things. Yes it is heartbreaking! Yes it pulls at my heartstrings on some days. Hence, why a simple gesture such as an autism baseball game can make a world of difference to my family.
It is not just about walking my boys out onto the field so they can throw a baseball, but it’s about the respect. The silence that overcomes the baseball field in honor of my boys and the other local children with autism is breathtaking. The respect that the fans, baseball players, coaches, and photographers give my boys is appreciated more than words can express. Watching the baseball players play in a uniform with a puzzle piece on the back is sensational! Witnessing a small community coming together for autism leaves me speechless.
Sometimes it isn’t the big things that mean the most. It can be a simple autism baseball game that can lift up the spirits of families with autism. I may never be able to watch my sons play sports. We focus more on trying to communicate and life skills. Our life is about therapy and ABA! Our house is locked with special locks 24/7 to keep Trenton from wandering away from home. We have many sleepless nights and shed many tears over autism. We are unable to attend community events. We are prisoners in our own home. We feel isolated and alone.
However, when the community comes together for autism in April, it provides us hope. Families raising children with autism need the support. We need the world to know about our children’s disability and why families raising children with autism do things just a little different.
I can’t express how grateful that I am to my brother who started this tradition on behalf of raising awareness for his nephews. I hope the world can come together to help change the lives of our beautiful children with autism. Hope……we have to hang on to it!