Monday 18 April 2016

Mardi Gras for Autism, Thank You

on Monday 18 April 2016 - 16:07:34 | by sasha

April 16, 2016 a simple date to everyone around the world. However, in Downtown Fullerton California (Behind Bourbon Street Bar & Grill and The Slide Bar parking lot) it is a much bigger date – an important one. A date coordinated by Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation to bring a community together to celebrate Mardi Gras for Autism.

I know, you are asking yourself what exactly is Mardi Gras of Autism. Is it just another event with booths filled with Autism Awareness pamphlets? Giving you that collectors feeling of sticking another piece of paper in a bag and mosey on to the next booth. No – there is more to it.

In addition, let me elaborate this too before I open up about my opinion and answers. During my eventful time with my son and family at Mardi Gras for Autism; the media was there stopping individuals like myself and asking the question what did Mardi Gras for Autism meant to me, and the value it puts into the autistic community?

Primarily, I am a mother of an autistic child. Those who can relate with an autistic children know how hard it is too venture outside our child’s comfort levels, because on the outside we have no control of the sensory levels our children must endure. These strong sensory levels can be quite painful. No one wants to see a child overwhelmed, and succumb to a pain from all the heighten sensitivity. That heighten sensitivity often causes our children too battle themselves (like self-inflictions).

Often autistic parents find themselves apologizing and saying ‘I’m sorry my child is autistic,’ or ‘I am sorry he/she can’t control their surroundings,’ and it often feels like autistic families have to segregate themselves. Not from people persay who view it as a terrible thing, but our own fears that something might happen, which is the behavioral heighten sensory sometimes things can get out of our control. I know how hard it is to have everyone watch a child suddenly show agitations by all the elevations in sounds, smells, lights, and so on. Naturally, as parents we seek an environment to be around others who can interact with you compassionate in the outside world without having to apologize for it.

Fullerton Cares Autism Mardi Gras founder Larry Houser states, “The way we’ve designed Mardi Gras for Autism, families can come out and enjoy a good time together with their children of all abilities.”

Mr. Houser is right! Mardi Gras for Autism was fun and enjoyable for my family.

Personally, it was therapeutic for me too. I was able to step outside and watch my child feel comfortable. To experience this designed event made especially for his sensory needs. It also gives me a moment as a parent to have adult conversations with fellow parents. Not feeling so trapped or isolated. Not to mention the spectacular entertainment of familiar things all kids can interact with like -- Darth Vader and Stormtroopers provided by 501th Legions. I commend them for being so superb to meet the many needs by standing for photographs.

What made me exceedingly happy was to see engaging things that reminded my son what he finds at home. Like the huge arrangement of jumping and sliding areas that gave my son (and sibling) the freedoms to indulge themselves with other autistic children. To be in the central core of entertainment, meeting the mayor, photography, food, gifts, information, people, balloons, beads, contributors, and the list has an incredible length of approval on my part.

Over all it was a great way of knowing that, the community understands. That my son has people outside of his own parents who are going to go the distance to invite him into a very heighten world, and make it manageable for him and others. He and other children like him can appreciate being different, because being different brings a community together to celebrate their uniqueness.

I sincerely wish to thank Fullerton Cares, and our community for making Mardi Gras for Autism the best experience ever! I extend a genuine round of applause to all the volunteers who participated in making it possible to have a fun filled enjoyable experience.

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