April is the month when Autism journeys are highlighted. As I’ve progressed through my career, advocacy for Autism has become stronger and clearer by listening to Autistic voices. The message that identity first language is preferred by Autistic individuals is being heard. It’s being heard by families, caregivers, and professionals who support the Autism community. It is being heard by me.
The gold infinity symbol is a newer representation of Autism. It‘s meant to represent the infinite differences in the Autism community. Rochelle Johnson, an autistic advocate from Australia, states, “Personally I like the idea of a gold infinity symbol- infinite possibilities of personality, function, traits, challenges, skills, and potential. And gold as the first two letters of autism are Au the chemical notation for gold.”
The gold infinity symbol to illustrate Autism makes sense to me because it is a symbol of connection and my career has been all about connection. First, I connected with instructors and mentors that shared their passion and knowledge. The ebb and flow of academic, cutting edge, best practices pairing with innovative and fun activities for children were eye opening to me as a young student clinician.
Second, my opportunity working at the Scottish Rite Clinic, now the Masonic Children’s Clinic allowed me to share deeply personal journeys with parents and children. Everyone’s story, strengths, and needs were unique. However, I have noticed some common themes. Parents brought their children to the clinic with the desire to understand their children and to help them communicate more easily. Being a small part of helping autistic children and their parents start their journey, navigate setbacks and struggles, and circle back to new beginnings like beginning to speak, use augmentative communication, potty training, or starting preschool formulates the infinity symbol and all its diversity in my mind.
So, during Autism Month, I want to publicly thank all of you that have given me the privilege of being part of your journey.
Tamara Pogin, ,M.A., CCC-SLP