I can’t remember when exactly, I made the decision to put blue in my hair, to raise awareness. Regardless, I committed myself to it even though, I thought it was a bit silly. After all, who am I? I don’t know or see that many people every day. Will anyone even pay attention or just think I’m a wacko and not ask?
I didn’t know. But I hoped I’d get some reaction, whatever it might be. And someone would hear about autism, whether they wanted to or not. Whatever the reaction it would still be more than that of the blue porch light last year (crickets chirping…). It couldn’t be any less…
In February, I set the appointment to do it for the last week of March.
Our local PBS Station is putting together a special program on autism. My son was brought to their attention by his pediatric neurologist. The producer of the show and I were talking about when the special would air. I asked if it would be during Autism Awareness Month. I mentioned my blue hair plan. She asked if she could tape it. She did.
Since I went blue, people have asked. More than I thought. People I know and ones I’ve never talked to. I’ve passed out cards with links to my blog, along with a little comment about autism. A McDonald’s employee, from whom I buy Tootles‘ Happy Meals, said, “We appreciate your support. My brother has autism.” My surprise matched hers. After she shared her connection, I told her about Toots. (She must’ve reasoned through it later since I was there, all the time, buying the same specialty ordered Happy Meal in the drive through…)
If you look here, you will see 13 other happy blue-sies! I know some. I’ve never met others. I know that every one of these people has a personal story now, too, about how going blue spread the word.
But the impact that meant the most to me has been in the best environment I could ever hope for.
In Tootles’ classroom.
Every day, Tootles’ teachers have been wearing blue in their hair, just like me. On Wednesday afternoon, I received an email which went out to every parent of all the kids in his class:
Hello Kindergarten Families!
Can you believe how fast this year is going by? We are having such a great time watching your children grow and learn so much. It is amazing to look back to August and see where they were and how far they have come.
A few reminders: …
April is Autism awareness month. Many of you have seen Mrs. [F] and I wearing blue in our hair. As we have talked about before one of our precious students, [Tootles], has Autism. In Support of [Tootles] and his family and all the other families who are affected by Autism, we are asking that next week your child wears blue as many times as possible to show their support. Maybe it is a blue hair tie, blue socks, a blue shirt, blue shoe laces, or whatever you have at home. Please do this all week next week and next Friday we will truly show our support by wearing as much as possible!!
Shortly after I received it, I got copied with this one:
I just wanted to say how great it is that you are encouraging the students to wear blue for [Tootles]. [J] considers [Tootles] one of his “best buds” and I’m so happy he is learning compassion and acceptance for all of his classmates. He will be excited to wear lots of blue in support of his friend!
[J’s mom and dad]
Thursday, when I picked my son up from school, the students were in the classroom. Usually, they are on the playground. The door was open. I peeked in. They were sitting around like they do during Circle Time. I was surprised to see my son and his ABA Case Supervisor standing in front of the class.
They had turned his “saying goodbye to classmates program” (part of his continuing facial recognition plan) into a “game”. Tootles had to point to a classmate and call out his/her name. The other kids were waiting to see who he picked. Mrs. C saw me and reported that he was calling classmates by name throughout the school day! Everyone was proud, aware, and accepting.
Kindergarten is where children begin to form opinions. Kindergarten age children are still filled with innocent acceptance and love. These teachers are giving a gift, not just to Tootles, but to everyone with autism. The 11 other children in Tootles’ class are learning to accept autism. They like Tootles. The opinions they form now could affect how they perceive, react to, and support or not support people with autism for a lifetime.
I’d like to think a little bit of that, sprang from blue hair.
[Don’t forget. You still have time to send me a photo for the page. One of those faces will receive the $25 gift card from Target drawn randomly out of a hat by Tootles! Why not let it be you?]