During April, this mom spreads autism awareness by educating others
By Molly Korte | March 22, 2019
Molly McMunn Korte is a story teller and human rights advocate because of her amazing son Jacob. You can follow his journey on Instagram. She also is a Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador for Autism Speaks for 2019.
Since my son Jacob was diagnosed with autism, we get excited each year to stream the Empire State building lit in blue on April 1st each year as it kicks off World Autism Month. This beautiful sight of blue is a bold visual reminder to all people that the autism community are a strong and vibrant one. We have an unstoppable momentum, as we bravely move forward with our message of acceptance and understanding in the 21st century. We are #LightItUpBlue.
April means so much more to our family than simply creating awareness. While we celebrate our Jacob all 365 days of the year, It is one month that honors who he is and highlights all the things he CAN do! We also love sharing (or bragging) about him to others. As his mom, I feel this is my duty!
Just yesterday, we were at the park. I began talking to another mom about Jacob. She made a comment about how she noticed he really enjoyed spinning a gear machine at the playground. I explained to her that my son has autism and enjoys the predictable and repetitive motion of seeing the wheels spin. She was impressed with the way he made eye contact with her and said she was confused by how he could have autism when talked directly to her. I was thrilled that she opened this dialogue.
I explained to her that we have a saying in the autism community that “when you meet one person with autism, you meet one person with autism,” meaning every person on the spectrum is unique. We had this amazing dialogue and she said to me, “I only hear stereotypes and misconceptions of individuals with disabilities. Autism sounds scary when you hear things from others. But after talking to you, it does not seem so scary anymore.”
Well folks, my work with this mom is done. One more enlightened mind who understands that scary stereotypes are just that.
All one has to do is look at my sweet son and see that this bright, happy, energetic, curious, entertaining, and delightful little boy is not one bit scary. He is a little boy first, a human, a person with a will and has hopes and dreams like anyone else. He is social. He thrives around people and seeks out friendships. He makes up “knock knock” jokes and then actively seeks a jovial response from the rest of us. He likes to see us laugh and he laughs with us.
Jacob readily seeks to adapt to our world. He runs around in circles with his sisters and collapses to the ground with joy. He loves trucks and cars and races them down tracks, while inviting his sisters to play with him “Emma, I want to play you.”
Jacob attends a mainstream preschool and his teacher, Miss Sharon, told me yesterday that Jacob is following one-step directions; taking off his jacket, getting his snack, and putting it with the rest of the snacks, all the while greeting his classmates by their names. YES! Jacob makes friends. Jacob is kind.
During this World Autism Month, I encourage each person who reads this to remember that everyone we meet is a dignified human person. Take the time, just like the mom I met, to ask questions and make connections. Peel away the stereotypes and layers that the world and society have heaped upon our minds by learning the facts. Together, in a unified fashion, we can all #LightItUpBlue during April.