The following post is by TSgt Nick Gordon
The TIG Air Force hosted a satellite event in Afghanistan, mirroring the Walk Now for Autism Speaks taking place in Dallas/Fort Worth on October 20. Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization that helps families with autistic children find services and education. Autism Speaks is especially interested in helping military families affected by autism and are currently lobbying in Washington on behalf of military families for services under Tricare.
Not to get too personal, but I could tell you first hand the struggles that come from having a child with autism as my own 9 year old son Nicky was diagnosed in 2005. Autism is what is called a spectrum disorder that affects each child differently and can range from mild to severe. Most children with autism have communication problems which make it difficult for them to understand social situations and as such have inappropriate behaviors that make integrating with their peers difficult. My son, for example, didn't start talking until he was five and then it was only a few words. He would often freak out in the grocery store or anyplace else - a parent doesn't want negative attention.
The process for military families was complicated and receiving services was a minefield to say the least. My family could have benefited from some of the information that Autism Speaks provides during those transition periods had there been more awareness at the time. My son, Nicky has made tremendous progress in the past 2 years largely due to in home therapy services that we get through the ECHO program under Tricare.
Walk Now for Autism Speaks is our chance to make a difference in the fight against autism by raising money for autism research and heightening public awareness. We have registered a Camp Sabula-Harrison team that you can join to register for the walk and raise money if you so desire.
If you are interested joining us for a worthy cause please follow the hyperlink to the team website and click "join our team."
[slideshow:2, order=top, width=640, height=520, img=|/sites/default/files/images/autism-speaks-group-picture.jpg|||Group shot of the walkers at Camp Sabula-Harrison ||, img=|/sites/default/files/images/setting-up.jpg|||Setting up||, img=|/sites/default/files/images/camp-sabalu-harrison-walk.jpg|||The Camp Sabula-Harrison Walk ||, img=|/sites/default/files/images/me-on-stage.jpg|||TSgt Nick Gordon on stage ||, img=|/sites/default/files/images/speech.jpg|||TSgt Nick Gordon addressing the group ||]
The Camp Sabula-Harrison event had a great turn out and ended up making a huge team donation of $4,315! 9 year old Konner Frazier, who was nonverbal until the age of 4, sang the national anthem that same morning at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Walk, in honor of Camp Sabalu-Harrison.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/AutismSpeaks.DFW for more photos and the video of Konner Frazier singing the anthem.
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.