The Autism Walk/Run in our community is only in the 3rd year running as of this year and this is our second year attending it. We are busy people, my husband and I. We both have full-time jobs, I have doctor’s appointments 3 out of 5 days of the week, I take Squeaker to karate the one of the days that I don’t have an appointment, and at the end of the week, we’re plum exhausted. I mean, most people are exhausted by the end of the week anyway, right? Please tell me that exhaustion at the end of the week is a normal feeling. But we still feel that getting up early on a Saturday to drive 45 minutes to walk a 5K for Autism is super important. There are so many reasons for this, many of which I’m sure you can guess, but maybe I’ll inspire some of you to participate next year if I share, so I will share my reasons with you.
Our community is a small one, but there is no shortage of people in our community who are somewhere on the spectrum. As a parent of a child with Autism and a teacher of children with special needs, I know this to be a fact. Despite the number of children on the spectrum in our community, because it’s such a small one, resources are few and far between. It is difficult for families (ours included) to get what they need from the school system because the school system doesn’t have funding for personnel (this coming from an insider who wants change). And if you want to get what you need outside of the school system, you can forget about doing that locally. We take our son about 2 hours away for therapy with someone who actually specializes in Autism. Once every 2-3 months. Sounds effective, right? Right. It’s because of our local chapter of The Autism Society that we’re just now finally getting support services in our area. Social skills support. Occupational therapy. Without driving hours away. Imagine that! Without funding from things like this Autism Walk/Run, they wouldn’t be able to pull things like this together.
So yes, we get out there, and we walk our hearts out. We encourage Squeaker (and his little brother now), to walk with us. We bring a wagon for when they get tired or when they start to slow down to the point of almost not walking. We donate money. There’s no reason I can think of not to. I know where the money is going. I meet with this chapter as often as possible with the schedule we have, and I know the plans they have. They have so many good plans in the works. So why not help? Ultimately, it benefits the population I work with, it benefits my child, and benefits other children in the community.
Going to events like this is a chance for us to get support from others in the community going through the same things we’re going through, and even those who aren’t. And we can bring our son without fear of judgment if we has a meltdown. After all, this is an Autism Walk/Run. Anyone who doesn’t show understanding of a person with Autism having a meltdown at an event for people on the Autism Spectrum is probably at the wrong event. It’s pretty awesome to see the turnout at these events, too. Last year, the turnout was kind of small, but still not bad for our area. This year, though? It was amazing. The outpouring of support from our community felt awesome, and I hope that when Squeaker gets older he’s able to feel that love and support. I hope that we’re able to bring him, point to the crowd of people around him and say, “Look around you. All of these people are here for you! They’re here because they care.”
|With his teacher.|
We get to run into people we already know from different areas of our lives and say, “Hello.” I always hope that I’ll run into a parent or two so that they can see me out in the community. Sometimes I do, and that’s pretty cool. This time around, we ran into Squeaker’s fan club from his school. He’s got a pretty big fan club. His favorite TA was there, his self-contained teacher was there, his PE teacher was there, his Principal, and a bunch of other teachers that know him (because, well, who doesn’t know him?) were there. We wound up, toward the end, walking with his fan club, and his teacher helped us out with finishing up the walk when he started to get difficult. Bless her.
So yeah, we’re busy. But it’s so worth it to go to these events. Not only are we out with like-minded people in the community, but we’re raising money for a cause that means so much to us. The money from these events goes directly to our chapter of The Autism Society. I’m helping raise money for a good cause, one that’s close to home, and that makes my heart happy.
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