Today is World Autism Awareness Day. All around the world, landmarks will be lit up blue (though we’re still waiting on the White House, Mr. President!) and a plethora of autism bloggers will write about the necessity of awareness and funding. Some bloggers and advocates will even say things like “we are passed awareness, everybody knows somebody who is impacted by autism.”
I’ve struggled over what I should write about today – it is such a big subject. This is where my thoughts (and events over the last few days) took me…
The Run Luau Run/diary of a mom family has been a big fan of JetBlue Airways for a long time. They just make traveling easy. Early on, as brand new parents, we appreciated the simple additions of television screens, but as our family grew and we were confronted with the challenges we face, we came to love the airline even more. Jess has written a few blog post about them here way back in April 2010 and here from April of last year and here and here from January of this year.
They way they have listened to the Special Needs community and made changes in the way they do things is exactly what anyone hopes a company would do.
Awareness is working – is it the answer to all our issues as a community? Not even close, BUT it is a starting point – a place where education can happen, where understanding can happen, where compassion can happen. None of those thing happen without Awareness.
But it was a phone call and then email I received last Friday from JetBlue that simply blew me away. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have already seen this, but I think that it definitely warrants its own blogpost here on Run Luau Run. Friday afternoon I received a phone call from a gentleman from the JetBlue social media department. To be honest, I was in the middle of some stressful stuff and I wasn’t really paying attention at first. I thought he was either trying to sell me something or have me take a survey that I had no time for. Once he clarified who he was, he simply said that he wanted to send an email to Jess and me and wanted us to keep an eye out for it. He didn’t say what it was, but he had a feeling we’d get a kick out of it.
The folks at JetBlue knew that Brooke’s birthday was this past Sunday; they also knew that one of Brooke’s favorite characters is Dora the Explorer – so they put this together:
When I show it to Jess, she cried.
When we showed it to Brooke…well, you tell me whether you think she liked it or not:
To top it all off, the day after her birthday, on the first day of Autism Awareness Month, this arrived in the mail from JetBlue:
which had this inside:
My point is this – raising awareness is working, it is making a difference. Whether it is companies like JetBlue changing the way they do boarding or interact with their passengers or Mophie donating battery packs to help some idiot run 100 miles while using the Charity Miles App or even Katy Perry happily donating 25 blue wigs to a bunch of marathoners, awareness is helping change attitudes toward autistic people.
Today I will wear my Autism pin and just like any other day of the year, talk to whomever is willing to listen about autism – I will gladly talk about insurance coverage, accessibility, adult services, employment, education; I will do whatever it takes to convince people that we need to help make the world better, more accessible, not just for my Brooke, but for autistic people everywhere.
All those things start with one word – Awareness.