This week I finished reading the book, “Love Anthony”, by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova. How apropos, as April is Autism Awareness month. The book explores the perspectives of Anthony, a non-verbal autistic boy, Olivia, his mother who is struggling to cope with losing him, and Beth, the woman who tells his story. It is a tale of moving on and setting oneself free from the demons of the past, but it is also a tale of the inner workings of a mind that works differently than most.
While a bit unsettling, the book was also a must-read for anyone who communicates with others on a daily basis – basically everyone. While reading, I felt Olivia’s pain as she worked to communicate with Anthony and to keep from upsetting his daily routine. As much as I’ve seen and read, the book drove home for me in a whole new way the difficulties involved in raising an autistic child, but they resonated as well. Because the huge barrier that was keeping Olivia from understanding her child was communication. And that is everything.
We need communication to parent children, to work with colleagues, to treat patients, and to make friends. We need communication if we wish to love and be loved, to feel and be felt. The healthcare environment is full of times when a breakdown in communication can occur, whether it is because patients are too intimidated to speak up, don’t know the language, or because a nurse can’t speak up to a doctor. It’s everywhere, and it’s one of the main causes of the breakdown in our healthcare climate.
Autism can be terribly frustrating because of the immense hurdles that it poses between the individual and society. Any lack of communication is frustrating, and it hurts everyone. During this month of bringing awareness to autism, let’s salute the heroes and pledge to do better for the victims. And let’s utilize this great gift of communication that we’ve been given.
Do you know someone who’s a hero for autism? Sound off below! Let’s show them we care!