Growth comes when we aim for our ideal, and not necessarily when we achieve it. –Sheryl Towers
Once again PJ and I participated in the Autism Walk that is given by Autism Speaks every year all over the country. This was the fifth year that the PJ Foundation Team walked. I am so thankful that we have a walk for autism awareness. For years, I wished that we had a walk, so even though I am old and tired, I feel the need for PJ and me to walk. The walk was held again at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Palace is the arena of the Detroit Pistons and holds many events year round.
I am sure that you know about Autism Speaks. It has been the fastest growing national organization for autism. It was founded by Suzanne Wright when her grandson was diagnosed with autism a few years ago. Her husband was the head of one of our major TV networks, so she had far more contacts and power than most of us. She was able to accomplish a lot for autism in a short time. I am so thankful for her. My book, “Inspired By Autism”, and this blog are listed on the Autism Speaks web site under Parent Resources.
I also had a booth to sell books, calendars, and note cards featuring PJ’s art. The PJ Foundation is selling a calendar for 2013 featuring children with autism and other disabilities. I am very proud of the calendar and all our “calendar kids” and hope that you will get one.
The day of the walk was cold and windy. I had dressed us for the weather, but we still got cold after being outdoors for a long time. The wind kept blowing our vendor signs and literature away until we came up with ways to secure them. I got a lot of positive feedback from people who had purchased the book last year. I really appreciate feedback from autism parents and professionals.
PJ has put on weight lately, so I’ve purchased new clothes for him. He was wearing a pair of the new jeans that he had not worn before. They were too big and we had no belt. PJ was circulating around the area where the vendors were. His sister, Stephanie, said that at one point, his pants fell completely down. (Talk about pants on the ground), I’m glad that I didn’t see that happen, but I held on to his belt loops and held up his pants the whole time that we walked. I tried to get him to hold them up, but it doesn’t bother him if they fall down, so I wasn’t taking any chances.
I am still amazed at how many people turned up for the walk. People with autism and their families, professionals and friends all walking together. I find it hard to believe that the diagnosis of autism has increased so much that now almost everyone knows someone with autism. In 1975, It was almost unheard of.
I think of all the years I spent being depressed by PJ’s condition. I am trying to make up for those years now. When PJ came along, the Spinners had hit records and I was enjoying life with travel, parties and shopping sprees. This autism was so far out of my way of living that I could not handle it. I could not pay enough to get sitters for PJ, but if I could, I was afraid to leave him with anyone except his brother and sisters. I wasn’t getting any sleep and my house was being destroyed.
I was traveling among the “Beautiful People” in the world of show business and this child did not fit into my plans. But I found another group of “Beautiful People”; parents of children with autism and professionals that worked with us and our children. I can never thank you all enough for all I have learned from you. You are truly my heroes!
I will leave you with the words of Kahlil Gibran; “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you”.