Why We Walk For Autism Speaks and Our Encounter With a Protester!

NOTE: The following was posted last October after we completed the Autism Speaks Walk. It is that time of year again and we are forming our team to do it again. I often feel a bit guilty telling folks that we are walking for Autism Speaks because part of me does not care for the way they do things. But I believe they are changing. The Autism Speaks VOTE video is incredible and actually features many Autistic individuals in it! I think they heard us and they get it. Either way we do the walk because JAY wants to do it! I have so many new readers since last year, so I thought I would repost this so you can see why we walk and JUST HOW INCREDIBLE MY KID IS!!! If you live in Northern VA we would love for you to join our team and walk with us. If you don’t live here you can still support us by clicking on that icon over to the right and donating what you can. We have a long way to go to reach out $1,000 goal! Help us get there! Thanks.

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!

Sharon

About Sharon

Sharon Fuentes is an award winning humor columnist, parenting guru, public speaker, special needs advocate, co-author of The Don't Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger's and connoisseur of exclamation marks! To book Sharon for a speaking engagement, or just say hello... email her at Sharon@sharonfuentes.com

2 thoughts on “Why We Walk For Autism Speaks and Our Encounter With a Protester!

  1. I remember you posting this last year. You’re following your guy’s lead. That is everything.

  2. Well, I tend to be on the anti side, but I’m very proud of your son!

    My son and I were once at Toys R Us when they were having a big autism cure drive. He read the materials and got very quiet. He never did express to me what he was thinking, but I’m still angry about it. He should be able to go to a toy store without being made to feel strange and different.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

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