Why We Walk For Autism Speaks and Our Encounter With a Protester!
Image you are walking along, surrounded by thousands of other families but really lost in the magic of your own. You are on a high. Watching your boy, relaxed among his own is just too incredible a feeling to describe. Your boy is chatting away, spitting out facts about the types of rocks that make up the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the path we are walking on. Your smile broadens as passerby’s comment on how brilliant your boy is. They laugh, they smile, they shake their head in understanding. No judgements, no whispering behind our backs about how loud he is being. No snippet remarks when he stops in the middle of the road to pick up rocks causing masses of people to scatter away and around him.
They laugh, they smile, they shake their head in understanding.
And then it stopped. Jay spotted their signs before I did. I immediately knew who they were. My heart reached out to this group. I understand them, really I do. You see part of me agrees with everything they stand for. I agree that Autism Speaks does not, nor should it, speak for everyone. I get their anger over funds that are raised locally, at this very walk, will not stay local. I get their disdain for the way they feel Autism Speaks tends to play on people’s fear and emotions for fundraising. (But doesn’t every charity do that?) These autistic adults feel that Autism Speaks is representing autism as a disease instead of a disorder, that needs to be cure. They stress that they don’t have cancer or AIDS… they don’t need nor do they want to be cured. I get this, I too have talked many times about how I feel the same way. My boy does not need to be fixed.
I watched my boy walk over to these gentleman and accept their flyers. He stood there reading them. He pondered over what they said to him. Then he looked at the crowd of people walking by and then back at the small group of protesters. He handed them back the flyer and then my 10-year-old Autistic son said this…
“You’re right… I don’t need to be fixed, but I would like to find out why people get autism. I also want to make people aware of what it really is like to have it… that is why I am walking.” And with that he grabbed my hand and together we walked on.
My boy, like a butterfly, awakened that day! And I am proud to be able to say that I was there to see it happen!