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Light Up Blue! - My Take by Anupama Bakshshi

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, a day when many iconic landmarks in many countries around the world are lit up in the colour blue. In My Take this week, Anupama Bakhshi, mother to Pranav, a teenager on the autism spectrum, reflects on the significance of this act of lighting up blue, on this today, and beyond.

While Pranav was taking an interview on air on the occasion of World Autism Day, the RJ turned to me to ask the significance of lighting up blue. For a person who lives and breathes autism, I didn't think I gave a 'perfect for going on air' answer. When he switched off the mics, he confirmed my feeling. He would have to edit what I said, he said.

It has been a year and I still wonder…why did the answer that would escape editing elude me? Like the famed daffodils of Wordsworth, the autism blue flashes upon my inward eye often and I ask myself… well, why couldn't I? The annual Lighting Up Blue has a heartening significance that is priceless. It is a good feeling, certainly, to know that while you fight your own little and mighty battles, taking up cudgels against the challenges at hand, tirelessly, there is overwhelming support, awareness and solidarity, so empathetic, so empowering and so selfless. It certainly drowns and nullifies the negative sounds and presences one cannot escape.

Community based initiatives that are a part of observing 'World Autism Day' are overwhelming and one feels a part of a phenomenon that is celebrated, not just fixed.

For the rest of the year, one hopes that the magic won't wean off. And it must not. That is the thing. One need not and would not want to find oneself in a situation where one has to 'explain' one's journey, especially to those whose support one does not get, where solutions are hard to find, where one is caught in meaningless rigmaroles, wasting time, energy and effort and where people who believe in your vision are so hard to come by . But one does. All the time. And that is reason enough to have the blues.

Is it a complaint? No. Is it that the beautiful lighting up blue on one day will not be able to prevent the primary caregivers from having the blues, oh so often? No. For there are things more relevant, more strong and more beautiful in one's life than these blues. The most important is belief in the child. It makes everything more than worth it. It's about the endless possibilities that exist WITH Autism, not INSPITE OF it!

Then there is the beauty of a giving sibling. It makes one revisit all the doubts and apprehensions. And not to forget, the gestures that the community at large keeps demonstrating and initiating. It's the scaffolding of these gestures that help the child find his/ her place under the sun and lead a meaningfully integrated life.

I may still not have the perfect answer to why light up blue but Light up Blue we must! The autism community deserves the attention and the sensitization that comes with it. And no prizes for guessing what mood and what colour the being of this proud autism mom is on the eve of World Autism Day…it's bright and it's Blue!

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