I am a walking advertisement for autism awareness. I am not sure exactly how this happened but I realize, based upon conversations I have with people that I am always raising awareness. I have autism shirts, pins, necklaces, bracelets, jackets, sunglasses, backpacks, bags, earrings, etc. If they had cats on them you would think I was a crazy cat lady. My office is filled with posters, plaques from walk events, paperweights, candles, etc. all with autism awareness decorations. If I saw anyone else with all of this stuff, I would probably think they were a little wacky. I guess I am a little wacky but I’m sure that’s not news if you are reading my blog. The thing is you don’t get all this stuff in one setting, you accumulate it over time. Some things I won from Autism Speaks as part of our fundraising achievements and some things I received as gifts, but others came from me always looking for something cute and clever to let the world know that we are proud of our son, we are part of a community and we are advocates. It’s a little competitive too, I’ve noticed. People are always asking each other “where did you get that shirt, necklace, etc.”? I do it too. Yesterday was our Walk for Autism Awareness in Broward County. As I have mentioned before we have our family team and family includes tons of friends and friends of friends that come out and support us. We had great t shirts this year and one woman even asked me, “hey where can I buy that shirt”? I told her, ” you can’t, it’s our family team shirt”. Earl said I could’ve sold her one as a donation for our team. Silly!!!
On Friday I had an early morning meeting at work with a potential new vendor. The man came up to my office and afer he noticed all of my NY Rangers stuff, he told me he was Bruins fan (get the F out of my office) he shared that he too has a 12 year old son with autism. Ok you can stay. I guess my stuff/shrine invited him to speak. After we finished our business discussion we had a really nice talk sharing our respective challenges. He said they did not have another child because of all the things they had to do with their son. I don’t know why but that always stings. Thankfully I had no idea anything was going on with Bryan when we had Jason. The idea of even having to make that choice feels like a sucker punch to the gut.
Later on in the day a woman who works at my company that I have met before but do not know well at all was looking for someone and stumbled by my office. We chatted for a few minutes and then she saw the “stuff” and told me her young adult daughter has autism. I think I am the one stop shop for this, perhaps I can become a shrink or grief counselor of sorts!! The community of people with autism has grown; everyone knows this unless you live on a deserted island, but I am proud to be an advocate and even more proud to be a mom of a child with autism. I don’t care for all of the high functioning, mid functioning, low, etc. He’s a kid with issues, but he’s a damn great kid.
At our walk yesterday we were joined by some folks that never have walked with us before and some of our team anchors that have been with us since the beginning. We are grateful!! Bryan loves it, we love it and it’s an all over energy boost for us. For those of us whose kids are preteens or teens, we are veterans and are proud to see our kids making progress, for the little kids, we can see their potential and hope to inspire the parents of the newly diagnosed. “hey look at us, we are surviving and our kids are doing ok”. We walked for a little while with our friends whose son is the same age as Bryan, they have been friends since kindergarten, and we always laugh together and share our kooky experiences. Bryan and his friend walked together and for a short period of time held hands. We loved it.