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Why I Run and Walk for Autism

Beverly Moore is Chair of the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC). This guest Blog includes her comments to the participants at the recent WNC Run/Walk for Autism where she shares why it is important for parents, family members, friends, and the community to support the annual ASNC Run/Walk for Autism events. The final 2012 event, the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism, will be held this Saturday, October 13, at Moore Square in Raleigh.

My husband Alan and I are parents of a 19-year-old son Kirby who has autism. Kirby cannot tell us about his day at school. He cannot dress himself. He can’t tie his shoes. But, he loves to swim, to swing in the yard, to listen to music and watch YouTube videos, including the Black Eyed Peas: Let’s Get it Started in Here!

Kirby was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with autism. Receiving the diagnosis of autism, as many of you have experienced, throws you into the realm of the unknown, the unpredictable: What is the nature of your child? What will the future hold for your loved one and your family?

It also throws you into the realm of the uncommon: Your friends’ and neighbors’ children are developing typically and yours is not. Your friends and neighbors pick up on those unspoken social cues and your loved one does not or has difficulty. The diagnosis can be very isolating.

The diagnosis can also be immobilizing. Autism is mysterious. You hear that “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Autism affects each person differently. Today with the Internet, the amount of information available about autism is overwhelming. A Google search of the word “autism,” recently resulted in 76,200,000 hits. The vast amount of information on autism can itself be immobilizing, without something or someone to guide you.

When we needed support and a compassionate ear, the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) was there for us.

After attending the ASNC annual conference, joining the local ASNC parent support group and meeting the Autism Society of North Carolina’s parent advocates, I found that not only was I NOT alone, but that I was in good company. The Autism Society of North Carolina gathers together parents, teachers, medical personnel, speech pathologists, occupational therapist, psychologists, and others – all smart, energetic, fun, and dedicated to helping address the challenges often presented by autism.

At its annual educational conferences, the Autism Society of North Carolina presents autism specialists not only from our state but from around the world. The conferences and other workshops helped guide Alan and I in figuring out what we could do to improve our lives and to help Kirby become as independent and as included as he is able.

The Autism Society of North Carolina was started in 1970 by parents. It was a time when children like Kirby would have been discouraged from attending public school. Their vision was to share information, provide support to one another, and enhance the lives of their loved ones as well as all children with autism throughout our state. Your coming out today to support the Western North Carolina (WNC) Run/Walk for Autism gives me great hope that the Autism Society of North Carolina will be able to meet and exceed the vision of these founding parents by reaching out to those in the western most portion of the state, where populations may be small but presence of autism a certainty. In North Carolina the prevalence of autism is 1 in 70. Thank you for your support.

In the words of my son Kirby: Let’s Get it Started Out Here!

The 7th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism on September 29th raised over $40,000 to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families in Western North Carolina. The Triangle Run/Walk for Autism is the organization’s largest annual fundraising event. This year’s goal is to raise over $300,000 in funding that is needed to provide services and supports to the over 60,000 families affected by autism in our state. If you have not already donated in support of our runners and walkers, please do so by visiting www.trianglerunwalkforautism.org. If you wish to participate in the event you can register at early packet pickup Thursday and Friday or prior to the event Saturday morning. Click here for more info.

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