This blog post was written by Amy Ursitti, whose brother, Jack, has autism. You can donate to her Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraiser page here. Why do you walk? Share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might feature it on our website! Find a walk near you here.
Jack is my twelve-year-old brother. He has autism. That said, autism isn’t what he should be defined by. Jack does so many things other than overcoming this obstacle. He swims, runs, and goes to school every day. I can’t say that he enjoys these things because he can’t tell me, but the point is that he is capable of doing many things that “normal” kids do.
I can surely say that Jack’s autism makes our lives interesting. He does lots of things that other people might think are funny, like constantly talking about “rocket” and “suitcase” using his iPad, but we are completely used to things like that. Behind all of his little quirks, Jack is just a kid. It’s so nice to see him doing things that normal kids do. For example, we’ve been to the autism-friendly production of the Lion King three times now, and watching his face light up when the puppets are walked down the aisle never fails to make me smile. When Jack was little, we never could have dreamed of bringing him to a musical. He would be too loud, or the lighting would freak him out, or some other issue would prevent us from going. Jack’s autism makes all of us appreciate his achievements, big or small. These moments where he does something we never expected are incredible for my family, and we celebrate each and every one of them.
I am so proud of Jack and all of his accomplishments, but autism does make things hard. I think we have to keep in mind that autism is a spectrum. Some people are more affected than others. My brother happens to be severely affected, and I honestly have no idea what it’s like for people who have milder forms of autism. What I do know is that people have different ways of dealing with it. I’ve heard of people going through their whole lives without anyone knowing that they have autism, and they’re fine. For my brother, that’s not the case. He has meltdowns and aggressions and can barely talk, so it’s pretty obvious that he has autism.
He has been undergoing intensive in-home therapy since he was two years old, and even after ten years that still hasn’t been enough. What he needs is a cure. Some people who are mildly affected by autism say that they don’t want a cure because they want to be accepted as they are, and I think that’s good for them. It’s not good for my brother. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think autism makes his life so much harder than it needs to be. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to not be able to say what you think.
That’s where Autism Speaks becomes helpful. My mom works for Autism Speaks, and she has gotten laws passed in many states that make it so the costs for treatment are covered by insurance rather than having families pay out of pocket. People at Autism Speaks also research causes and potential cures for this disorder. That’s why we raise money for this organization year after year. There is so much that they can do not only for Jack, but for the many other people struggling with autism. 1 in 68 children in the United States have some type of autism spectrum disorder. When my brother was first diagnosed with autism in 2005, this number was around 1 in 160. During the 1980s, this number was 1 in 2000.
Since autism is now so prevalent, I’m sure that you know someone with autism. If you don’t know my brother, donate for that other person that you know. I’m sure there is one. Even one dollar makes a difference. All we can do is pay these scientists and advocates, and this gives us more hope that there will be a better future for people on the spectrum. Thank you so much for your support! We hope to see you at the walk on the 18th!