Skip navigation

Calls to Action

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!

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.