In honor of Autism Awareness month, Kyle Jetsel — a father of six with two children on the spectrum — decided to post a PSA about why the 30-day period is so dang important. In an informative Facebook post, he outlined that although some parents who have kids with autism obviously take the month seriously, it should be on the radars of moms and dads whose children don't have autism, too.
"It's Autism Awareness month. A G A I N," he wrote. "My guess is . . . you're AWARE, right? I get it. Each April way too many overzealous mama bears come at you with their hands on their hips, wagging their heads and swinging their pointer-fingers back and forth, and you can almost hear 'em saying, 'No you diii-uuun.' They're going to be in your face for the entire month of April, flashing the blue lights, their puzzle pieces, and demanding you change the world to meet the needs of THEIR kids."
While Kyle completely understands autism is top of mind for parents throughout April, he wants the celebration to be more inclusive this year.
"I get it. It even gets on MY nerves and I have two sons on the spectrum myself," he confessed. "So, I'd like to take a different approach. I'd like you to know something right now and then to do something simple to celebrate WITH us our special kids. It's tough. Our worlds are different. Some of us will raise our kids until the day we die and THEN, we'll worry for their future without us."
"We'll experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We'll miss out on a lot of things you take for granted."
The father continued: "There's NO WAY you can understand the depth of emotions we have gone through and will go through," he explained. "We'll experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows. We'll miss out on a lot of things you take for granted. We CAN'T EVEN TRY some things you find to be 'normal daily activities.' But it's okay. We love our kids. We love our families. We realize EVERY family has difficulties and trials. Ours are just a bit different than 'the norm.'"
As far as helping moms and dads who have children on the spectrum? The dad explains you certainly don't have to go over the top. Just encourage them to keep going.
"You KNOW a parent that has a child on the spectrum? Reach out to them. Acknowledge them and their mammoth efforts. You'll never know what they're going through or what they have to handle and that's okay. But them knowing that you 'simply care' will mean the world to them. Say hi. Maybe — if you know them well — give 'em a tight hug. Maybe whisper in their ear that that you appreciate them and their efforts to give these unique kids as normal a life as they can."
The bottom line: show that you empathize with them in the best way you know how. "You know how to express that you care," he said. "Do THAT. Whatever that means to you. THAT would mean the world to an autism parent. THAT would impact us in a way that could make a huge difference in our lives. We KNOW you're aware of autism by now. What we WANT to know is that you are aware of us, and the best way to do that is to show us you care."