On Saturday, May 21, the staff of CSLOT joined hundreds of others from the Bay Area in Autism Speak’s 2K walk around Kelley Park inSan Jose. The purpose of the walk was to raise money for Autism research and to raise the public’s awareness of Autism. It was an inspirational day, filled with people of all ages and from all walks of life. CSLOT’s staff showed up in white t-shirts with blue lettering which spelled out “We Walk Our Talk,” a reference to CSLOT’s commitment to provide communication and movement to those with Autism.
Autism Speaks has grown into the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks has a website which lists the signs of Autism, the red flags to pay attention to so that help can be obtained. Bernard Rimland, the founder of the Autism Society of America, another great organization which advocates for individuals with Autism, said to an audience I was a part of, “You can tell if a child has Autism after spending 2 minutes with him.” The obvious sign is a disconnection from the people around him especially other children, and often there are repetitive hand or body movements which cause him to stand out from his peers.
Autism affects one in 110 children; one in 70 boys, a ten-fold increase in incidence in the past 40 years. Because many more individuals with Autism are in the mainstream of society today, many of us have had up-close experiences with them, experiences which can range from confusing to enjoyable. Spending time with someone with Autism can be a rewarding, the key to which is finding and sharing an activity, event, or object that they especially enjoy. Though the verbal communication may be limited, individuals with Autism often use other methods to communicate such as standing near the door to indicate that they want you to open it. Especially if the time is spent in doing what they like to do, you can find yourself drawn into their amazing world.
The participants in the Autism Walk were at Kelley Park to support those they knew with Autism. Their supportive steps translated into financial assistance. As the Autism Walk drew to a close and walkers dispersed with their loved ones, the organizers announced that over $425,000 had been committed; $2,900.00 of which came from CSLOT. We are proud to be part of such a supportive community!
Brendan O’Connor Webster, MA, CCC-SLP