Next weekend I am participating in Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Chicago. Now as we've seen from my goal updates, I am not an athletic person. I don't enjoy exercise. And I would be perfectly content spending my days lounging on the couch watching Real Housewives of New York. (I recently became addicted to that show. I know, how embarrassing.)
But there are some things I will get off of my ass for and this is one of them.
But why? Why would this walk compel me to get up and get out when others don't?
Because of this face...
Yep, that's my nephew, Little Man (AKA the most perfect child ever). And he is autistic.
Prior to Little Man, all I knew about autism was what I took away from the movie Rain Man. I didn't realize what a wide spectrum autism had and that what autism means for one family is completely different for another.
Here's what it means to mine.
(and loves cell phones and remotes--notice the toy cell phone in his hand!)
But I know that many people won't see his perfection. They will see the ways he is "different". (What exactly does that mean? Aren't we ALL different?)
And that makes me sad. Because they will miss the joy in his successes. They will miss the happiness in his giggle. They will miss the love in his hugs, kisses and bright "Hi! How you?"
As the number of children being diagnosed with autism continues to increase (a child is currently diagnosed every TWENTY minutes!) we as a society must stop seeing these children as "different" and instead see everything they have to offer. At the moment there is no known cause of autism and no known cure. So we must raise money to fund research, to help families pay for therapies and to raise awareness
And so I walk. For all of those children. For their families. And for the little boy who showed me what it meant to fall head over heels in love with a child.