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Why I Walk- Angela Nieves

This post is by Angela Nieves, a Staten Island walker and team captain. You can visit her fundraising page here.

I decided to do the Staten Island walk because I wanted to raise awareness for parents like me who are as clueless about Autism Spectrum Disorders as I was seven years ago.  I'm walking for my Matty boy.  He is now seven years old. He was my first child and I couldn't wait for him to come into the world.  I was so happy and couldn't wait to be a mom. I had the usual fears that any mother has when they are pregnant- just hoping everything would be okay with the baby that was growing inside of me. But the last thing I thought about was my baby having ASD.

Up until 16 months, my baby looked fine and showed no signs. Then, I started to see that he was not laughing or making sounds as much.  Additionally, he was not responding to his name being called, or imitating me when I would clap my hands.  He didn’t play with toys the way babies do.  

For a long time, I couldn't help but feel guilt. Was it something I did or ate that made him this way?  After two months of denial, I couldn't wait any longer and I found out about early intervention. It was a process, but I knew I had to do it to find out answers. After all of the evaluations, I got a diagnosis: PDD-nos.  I wondered what that was and learned that it was an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I had never known anyone with Autism.  I felt lost and sad. All I could think about was my little boy’s future.  Will he have friends?  Will he go to college?  Get married?  I was torturing myself.  I had many sleepless nights. I felt like my whole world was upside down.  My son couldn't speak for three and a half years. To not hear the words momma and dada was devastating.

But Thank God for early intervention, the therapists and the doctors.  When I felt helpless, they gave me knowledge.  I also did my own research.  I wanted to know everything I could so I could have a better understanding and cope with him. I want to share my story because somewhere out there there's a mother and a father who are going through the same thing.  And maybe they won't feel alone the way I did.  Maybe they will have the support they need because there are people who are spreading awareness throughout the world.  And this is why I will walk, not only to raise awareness, but to speak for all children that cannot speak- to fight for my boy.  I love you Matt!