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Why I Walk: For my son's beautiful smile

This blog post was written by Erin Haney, mom to a son with autism. Erin is walking in the Autism Speaks Walk in Tampa Bay, Florida. Help her reach her fundraising goal here. Why do you walk for Autism Speaks? Share your story at and we might feature it on our site!

For Autism Awareness Month, I want to speak out on how much this cause and this diagnosis has affected my family.

5 years ago, I would hear the word autism and picture Doug Flutie's Son, Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, or the little boy Max on the show Parenthood. Never in a million years would I think my son 'had it'. I remember watching each of those situations and thinking, wow those poor people and their families. Heck, even 2 years I still... felt bad for them.

However, something came over me finally. I don't know if you call it education, awareness, understanding or acceptance. Maybe it's all of the above. All I know is, I am no longer afraid of the A word or feel bad for those families. Instead, I smile and thank God we have a program and many programs around this world to enlighten everyone on what autism really is.

We sit in church and I see a young man in his early 20s who follows along in the hymnal and sits next to his mom. He attends to church, gets communion and shakes hands at the sign of peace. With the exception of the moments he self stimulates with his hands in front of his face, you wouldn't be able to tell that he most likely falls on the spectrum. The kids we encounter at grocery stores or school, may have little noticeable things as well that make them fall on the spectrum.

The beauty of the awareness we all now have, thanks to the World Autism Awareness day and walks and fundraisers, is that these kids are no longer seen as different. We no longer pass judgment on their parents. We accept them. We understand. We don't feel bad for them. We help them. We understand. We listen. We learn. Most of all, WE LOVE.

My family and I are walking for Jake and all of those AMAZING kids and adults affected by autism on a daily basis. If you want to donate to this amazing cause, you can do so on the link below. My goal is to raise $2000 for our team which will go help purchase 4 iPads for 4 families in need to help their children with their language assistance and visual and communication development. See the amazing in EVERYONE!

Help Erin reach her fundraising goal — donate here!

Why do you walk? Tell us at Look to see if there is a walk in your area at!


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.