SARATOGA SPRINGS – April is Autism Awareness Month, a mental condition which effect countless families. Autism is defined as a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. No real “reason” for the condition has ever been determined.
“I have a lot of different theories as to why autism has had an explosion in the last 20 years. There are many different factors with a constant investigation of food, diet, exercise from being pregnant all the way up to medications and vaccines, which is a hot subject, and it’s all up for negotiation because it all depends on who you talk to,” said Tara Colvin, whose son Phillip is autistic.
The Colvin family, and those like them, have faced many challenges as they go through life with an autistic family member.
“You’re dealing with schools that are not prepared to house and educate children with disabilities. There arise programs like BOCES, and then that program is inundated with an array of disabilities. It essentially becomes a dumping ground for all these kids that society doesn’t know what to do with. So as a parent, you have to be very strong to navigate all of that and to be an advocate for your child,” Colvin explained.
Colvin is trying to get Phillip into college but since his high school career was so detrimental he has no interest in furthering his education.
“Phillip is like no way, I’m tapping out,” she said.
School was a struggle for him, he never felt like he had enough support from the staff or programs.
“Life is very black and white for him, the understanding of grey and sarcasm, that’s very challenging. When he says something inappropriate I’ll say, ‘why don’t you try that again’ and he knows, ‘okay I said something that made somebody uncomfortable.’ The grey area is where most decisions lay and they’re not there so it’s all manufactured and taught behavior, for them it isn’t natural. He doesn’t care how your day is going, they have no empathy. That is the truth of what we’re working with here. He’ll come home every day and ask how my day was, but he doesn’t’ care. It’s a manufactured behavior,” Colvin explained.
Autism Awareness Month is from April 1 through April 30 and features bright royal blue as the awareness color.