I decided this year I would “LIGHT IT UP BLUE” to help spread Autism awareness.
And spread the word I did!
I had a lot of trepidation over changing my hair, truth be told. Those who know me probably found this hard to believe as I typically don’t fit the norm of professional working Mom of 4 and I often look different anyhow.
But the truth was, it had been awhile since I drew different attention to myself and I was a little worried about it.
I really shouldn’t have been though.
People love blue hair it seems! I got compliments every place I went.
I took the time to explain that I had done it to support the April long “light it up” campaign and most people even seemed to know what that was. It was nice to share with others and a few with first hand knowledge were quick to smile in acknowledgement.
I did actually start my blue haired experience out in a town that everything is “A ok”
Sin City. Las Vegas, Nevada!!
Las Vegas welcomes all to its crazy town and I fit in perfectly. I even got in a few other peoples selfies because they loved the blue, or wanted to “hug a smurf”!
I have to tell you though, as much as I was accepted, there lay an underlying desire for me to “fit in”. I missed my blonde hair and no matter how much positivity came my way I really just felt unsettled.
As the month wore on I started to really feel it.
I wanted to be able to wear reds and pinks, shallow, but for someone that always dressed as she wanted and loved bright, cheery colours, it was a hardship being forced to match my clothing to my hair!
In the last week, I struggled with the fact I either needed to let the colour fade out and look a little “16 yr old punk rebel” or dye it again but have a harder time removing the stronger colour when the time came.
Yep. Vain. Shallow. Even a little petty.
I admit, I felt a decline in my confidence and I even felt less attractive.
So?? Who cares right?
I gave all this a ton of thought and after a long consideration I scolded myself for letting this get to me. And I then drew a comparison that might land me in a light hot water with some readers, but I think it is valid and a great life lesson to a mom with an ASD kid.
While I rocked my blue hair and was “different” then others I really felt a strong desire to be “normal”.
I immediately wondered if this is similar to the way someone on the spectrum might also feel, A strong pressure to be like everyone else.
I had really never felt this. I don’t often even care what others think but with a bright blue head of hair I suddenly felt very exposed and scrutinized.
Does my child feel this? A need to be like everyone else when he just can’t be? And please tell me I don’t make him feel this. I’d be ashamed of myself if I did.
See, I didn’t think I was any less because I had bright blue hair but I did feel like I stood out. And at times, like when my 5 year old decided to throw a fit in Mastermind while I had all four of my children out with me, I felt like I was being judged, and not in a kind way. Dressed in jeans and a rock t-shirt with blue hair and 4 kids, no Dad in sight, did people make presumptions about me? Is that any different than people making presumptions about our autistic kids when they act out of the norm?
The sad part of this whole experience is I knew I could change my hair back and life would continue on as it always had.
When our children feel like they don’t fit in, they feel different, they don’t feel accepted, they DON’T have the quick option to change back to a more comfortable experience.
My eyes opened a little wider this month.
I felt for the first time what my son might feel like when we forget to step into his shoes and see things from his eyes. When we ask that he just do things “our” way, with no respect or consideration for “his view or His way” When we just presume we are the right way and try to make him conform.
It was a $20 dye job and an hr of my time but the lesson was priceless.
Never make someone feel shameful for who they are. Be kind and be open minded. Different, not less.
I’ll never forget this lesson and I am glad I took the time to start the conversation.
I’m not sure that I will ever go “BLUE” again, but I can say I have a new respect for how bravely our children march through the world and refuse to feel “less”.