July 4th...a day commemorating our independence. Most of us never think about our independence because we typically just make our own choices and do as we please. We take for granted that we can go here and there, do this and that ... all at will. But if you think about the definition of independence as it applies to children with autism and other diagnoses - not relying on another or others for aid or support - the word suddenly takes on a whole new meaning. And while independence is defined differently for every child, the process of working toward this goal remains the same. It's called hard work, never saying quit, and keeping your eyes firmly on the prize.
Not every child will reach the plateau of total independence (true for children without a diagnosis as well). But, do you know how many children have been - and still are - thought to lack the ability to *be* independent at any level because of an obstacle and barrier (i.e. their diagnosis) that others believe precludes achieving this goal? And do you know how many have proven these people wrong?
For many, independence is celebrated as a day with family barbeques and fireworks. For many others, it's a life goal that often starts in childhood, continuing through adolescence and right into young adulthood. It's what parents "in the trenches" are fighting for every day, refusing to relent to the labels or naysayers who seem to know what the future holds. They don't.
For the millions of children (and their parents) who are striving to achieve the milestone of independence, think of tomorrow as a celebration of you and everything you're working so hard to achieve. Nothing worth achieving comes without true effort and you continuously show the rest of the world what this is truly all about.