19 April 2011

nothing to see here

You could probably say that I asked for it when I wrote these words to Emma.

Tomorrow starts Autism Awareness Month. And of course I want people to know all about you and what autism means in our lives -- the challenges you face, the resources you need, the ways you're the same as any other 5-year-old. 

I wasn't expecting a phone call the day after that post was written, asking me to do a television interview about autism awareness and what it means, to me and to Emma and to the entire local autism community, to have ABA centers coming to the area.

"So we'd like to interview you!" the reporter said.

"On camera?" I asked stupidly, knowing she was going to answer in the affirmative and fruitlessly wishing otherwise.

Oh, how I wanted to say no. Anyone who knows me at all knows how shy I am, that I would rather shove the spotlight in any other direction than have it on me.

That was the thing, though - they weren't asking to put it on me. They wanted to talk about autism and Emma. They wanted to make people aware. And I'd just written that I wanted to do the very same thing.

So I said yes, and then I sent several panicky text messages, ranging from "Cameras are coming to my house. Help!" to "I'm not sure what just happened, but I think I'm going to be on TV."

And so I was, stammering and fumbling my way through the reporter's questions, wishing I could have written out my own script beforehand, watching Emma dart in and out of the room while I shoved a cat off my shoulder. (Yes, that really happened, and it was fortunately edited out ... unlike the part where I mixed up the centers' names. I'm not being modest when I say I'm a terrible public speaker.)

I was really grateful to have the opportunity to be a (somewhat trembling) voice for autism. And I was also really, really grateful when the reporter left my home and took her camera with her.

But more than that, I'm glad there was a reason to do the interview at all, that there are now two centers in the community providing ABA therapy. I'd like nothing better to see Emma enrolled at one very, very soon. Maybe when the months of hoop-jumping that have been required to make that happen pay off, I can share the good news.

Here's hoping.

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