Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Walk For Autism Speaks

We can never be sure how our lives will unfold or what challenges and blessings may greet us. It is our strength of character, our fortitude and in many instances our ability to share and receive love that determines how we will face what comes our way. As an educator I have encountered many parents whose children require some special attention. A child needs, and is entitled to, someone who will serve as an advocate for them especially when they are unable to provide their own 'voice'.

This week I received information from a dear friend, Sharan, who has a beautiful son with autism. She sent me information regarding an upcoming walk for Autism Speaks. Her walk is this coming weekend, but others are taking place in communities across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom throughout the year. (To learn more about autism click here.) Sharan and her family have tirelessly campaigned to provide their son with a 'voice' and I imagine that this struggle has been both exhausting and rewarding. With their permission I have included a brief description of him.

Hi, my name is Preston. This has been quite a year for me. I turned six years old and will start first grade in the fall. I continue to work hard at home and at school to learn new things. I should soon be getting a machine to help me talk. My mom says she promises never to say "be quiet" to me once I start! I still love to climb and I have difficulty making friends, but maybe with the research Autism Speaks provides, there will be some new help on the horizon. I take a lot of supplements a day (yuck) and I keep my mom and dad very busy. I also have a big brother named Austin and big sister named Payton who love me very much. I wish I could tell them I love them too.

Sharan writes that Preston is part of a serious epidemic. Millions of children nationwide are being diagnosed with autism at the rate of 1 child in 150. We don't know why and we don't have a cure. But through organizations like Autism Speaks, we hope to get some answers soon. Answers that can help Preston and other children like him live full lives.
If you would like to make a donation you may do so by going to Thanks.


lettuce said...

i only have a little experience of/with autism - it seems to be quite heartbreaking and yes, growing at a scary rate. That sense of disconnection must be so very hard for families to deal with.

thanks for this insight and information.

great vid. in your sidebar.
more vids please!

Steve said...

Gary: I feel like I should drop in and say hello, given that I so narrowly missed meeting you yesterday. So, hello!

My nephew has a sort of mild autism that affected his speech development and social skills. It IS interesting that this problem has grown so widespread. Wonder what's going on?

Sha said...

Gary, thank you for bringing awareness to autism and our crusade to help all children affected.

I bet your students are just in love with you!


d. chedwick bryant said...

It was bliss to meet you yesterday Gary! You are incredible. Of course I knew that, but I got a lot out of what you said and how you --follow your bliss--

d. chedwick bryant said...

Autism is such a mystery--I ask about it but it remains a mystery. My friends just put their autistic child into a live-in school situation. He is thriving there and his parents are re-connecting. As a family, they are growing stronger.

Reya Mellicker said...

What a great post, and what a great cause. Thanks for this.

Lettuce speaks for me - more vids, please? Imagine me signing "perfect" - OK??

Missing you (a weird thing since I barely know you)!!

Reya Mellicker said...

I wish our culture made more room for people who aren't exactly like they're "supposed" to be. Have you ever read the essay by Oliver Sacks about the autistic woman who worked in the cattle industry to make the slaughter more humane for the cows? Can't remember her name, but I can find a reference to the essay if you've never read it. It's an awesome story of a person our culture says is "not normal" finding a way to excel, in part because of her Autism.

Sebastien said...

Gary, first off, thank you so much for your comment! I appreciate your offer of help, it's really so kind of you! I'm ok, fortunately my pain isn't as bad as before, so overall things are easier, it's just that sometimes there are down periods with my condition (a condition I should eventually recover from, it's just taking a while to recover!)... but I have many things to be thankful for so I always focus on those things :)

The intro of your post is about as truthful and as important a mindset one can have about life.

Can't remember if I mentioned this, but I heard a lady on NPR, she was autistic and she was truly unbelievable! She is a professor, and she has done studies on animals and animal behavior, and her autism allowed her to have fascinating insights and discoveries. It really blew my mind, and I found her work soooo inspiring. She found strength in her condition, and I think that can happen a lot, when we have a bad period in our life, or we have something to struggle with, sometimes this struggle or condition or perceived fault is what provides us with the key to our greatest succeses!


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