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April is Autism Awareness Month. That's why one mom wants the world to know kids on the autism spectrum — 1 in 68 children have autism — shouldn't feel isolated and ostracized. After an incident with her 6-year-old son at a playground designed for special-needs children, Minnesota mom Kate Swensen posted an emotional video to Facebook explaining why autism awareness is so important.
According to Babble, Disney's parenting blog, Swensen's son, Cooper, has severe nonverbal autism. At the playground, he pushed a girl down a slide and her father "lost it." Swensen adds that because autism is an "invisible disability," many people don't fully understand it and blame a child's erratic and often inexplicable behavior on bad parenting. In Cooper's case, he ran off laughing after the girl's father confronted him.
"The dad lost it on Cooper. He yelled at him and me," Swensen said. She also explained that after Cooper pushed the girl down the slide, she made sure that the child wasn't hurt and apologized to the girl's father. Even after that, Swensen says that he verbally humiliated her and Cooper.
The goal of the video, Swensen says, isn't to shame the family, but to let other parents and families know that there needs to be a conversation around autism spectrum disorder and that kids on the spectrum shouldn't expect special treatment, but should have an "extra level of understanding," since many people are still unaware of autism and the different ways it can manifest.
Swensen set up a website, Finding Cooper’s Voice, to chronicle her family's journey with autism spectrum disorder. With the site, she hopes to offer families struggling with autism a means to "figure out how to co-exist and not hide out in our homes."
You can watch Swensen's heartfelt video, below, and learn about the signs of autism — many of which are, in fact, invisible, by heading over to Autism Speaks.