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By guest blogger: Julie Hornok

I approach this Autism Awareness Month differently than I have in the past. Somehow, it’s not mine anymore…It’s hers. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to fight for my daughter every day, and I will openly share about our lives to help others know the great unmet needs of our community. But, experiencing autism for over fourteen years has allowed my emotions to stabilize and a different perspective to set in. This is how my Autism Awareness Day has changed over the years:

I will fix my child and change the world in my free time! Everybody needs to know about autism. I am going to put up a booth at the mall and talk to every person that comes by. Let’s also make t-shirts and raise money through a run!

I know all the signs and have memorized the data. I won’t leave this play area until I screen every single kid. If you have a child that flaps, spins or walks on his tip toes, you will receive a pamphlet. Early intervention is key, you know. 

Autism what? Awareness Day what? I haven’t slept a full night in over three years! I can’t even remember what year it is much less what day it is?! For us, it’s all the same day. 

The judgment. The stares. The nasty things said to me. OH, THAT’S RIGHT….I WILL MAKE YOU AWARE!!! 

Why does this have to be my life forever? Yes, of course I am aware. Stop talking about it already! I wish I wasn’t so aware every minute of every day. It hurts. It really, really hurts. 

This day should actually be about ACCEPTANCE. It’s not about making anyone else aware, it’s about looking at the beautiful daughter I have in front of me and loving her as she is. 

Let’s use this day to celebrate her gifts and the amazing things she can do! I want everyone to see the beauty she brings into the world. She’s smart, funny, and such a hard worker! 

Don’t listen to me today. I’m not the one living it. Her voice matters, so let’s all just slow down and listen to what she has to say: Lizzie: “Please be nice to me. All I want is to be included.”

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Julie Hornok is an author, inspirational speaker and autism advocate. For thirty real, raw, eye-opening parent stories from all over the world, read her book, United in Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum (foreword by Temple Grandin). For interviews from parents and professionals all over the world, follow her @unitedinautism.