This blog post is by Ali Dyer, Assistant Director of Grassroots Advocacy. Her older brother Jeff is affected by autism.
‘Our 1 in 68 can’t wait so take 5 to advocate!’ is a slogan that has been drilled into brain by my colleague and friend, Shelley Hendrix. And it is true; prevalence numbers are rising at an alarming rate and we as a nation are not prepared to provide supports for individuals affected by autism. We are in desperate need of Federal funding to invest in research, treatment, training, and services for the autism community at large.
We have the tools to do it. We have the need to do it. But in the end, it is up to each one of us, the American people, to make it happen.
But I will be honest. As much as the ‘take 5’ mantra makes complete sense to me; I was terribly intimidated by it.
I know that there are a million ways to advocate, but what does ‘advocacy’ even mean? Merriam-Webster defines it as, ‘the act or process of advocating or supporting a cause or proposal.’
Ok, got it, just do this thing. So…
I’m lucky. My parents are the most selfless people I know, giving all (and sometimes more than they have) to my brothers and I so that we could soar. They had to fight that much harder though for Jeff so that he had access to the tools and supports he needed to live a full and productive life. It shouldn’t be like that. Our family has been blessed along the way and joke that Jeff is in the best shape out of all the Dyer kids, but not everyone is so lucky.
It is daunting to think that as an individual you can make an impact in Washington, but you can! Now, through our Autism Champions initiative, it is SO easy to connect with Congress and let them know why passing autism legislation matters to you. Below is living proof that it literally takes less than five minutes for BOTH of my parents to call their Senators and tell their friends to do the same.
If you don’t believe me, just watch as my dad, Bill, takes the #ASBTBchallenge then passes it off to my mom, Carol. This is actually their first time yesterday using the new Autism Speaks Champions tool – caught on film!
What I have learned this summer for sure is how to maximize my own voice by teaching others how to use theirs and get over that hurdle of fear.. Just make the call!
Being able to call Jeff my brother is such an incredible blessing. He has given more to me than anyone can imagine. Simply put, he inspires me to be a better human-being. I owe Jeff the world and I will continue striving so that he and all those like him, can live a dignified life under the stars and stripes.
Help me by doing the same! Take the #ASBTBchallenge! You can take quick action by calling both of your United States Senators today by simply clicking here: http://bit.ly/SensCall. Make your own video like my parents did to show your friends how easy it is, post it on social media and use the hashtag #ASBTBchallenge. Ask 10 of them to support your efforts for the person you love with autism and make the call themselves!