One year ago today, Autism Spectrum Explained was published. At that point, there were just a few articles and the only readers were a handful of family and friends. Today there are seventeen articles (and eight more almost ready for publishing) and visitors from all over the world. I think what I'm trying to say is, the website has grown a lot.
Today I'm aware of how much I've grown in the past year thanks to ASE. My understanding of autism has grown exponentially (as has my mini autism library at home) as I pushed myself to find more information to make available to you all, the readers. But my relationships with my family have grown, too. I now have a deeper respect for my mother, as I've come to realize just how much she dealt with and how hard she pushed to help Caley when she was younger. And, of course, the relationship with my sister Caley is deeper than ever before as well because now I understand what she deals with every day in ways I hadn't before and that has made me a better ally to her.
But more than that, today I am more aware than anything of how much I have left to learn. I look at where I am now in my understanding of autism, an understanding which is incomplete and subject to daily fluctuations, and I cannot help but notice how different my level of understanding is today than this time last year. The contrast is even more stark when I compare my knowledge now to that of five years ago, when I did my first (and only) fundraiser for Autism Speaks. When I look back I see all the missteps I've made along the way, and I can't help but cringe a little, because there was just so much I didn't know. Even now, I know that a year from now I'll be cringing looking back at this moment realizing how comparatively little I understood about autism the year before.
And you know what? I look forward to that. Because autism is such a huge area that no one fully understands (if anyone ever tells you they understand it completely, that's actually evidence that they don't), an area in which we learn more every day. And one of the most important abilities for an autism advocate, or anyone for that matter, to have is the capacity to change their mind in the face of new evidence and experiences. If I ever felt I had found the one Truth about autism, that would be reason to worry, not rejoice. We move forward by learning a little more each day, and that's what we try to do here at ASE - share the learning experience and promote understanding, to what extent we can, with the knowledge that there's always room to grow.
So here's to another year filled with learning and growth, for me, for Caley, for ASE, and for all of you amazing readers. -Creigh