It was an honor to attend the annual INTO THE BLUE gala last night at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel. It was a beautiful and heart centered evening showcasing and celebrating the mission of Autism Speaks.
The reality is this: ONE in 59 children are diagnosed with autism … every 6 minutes. And because my daughter is that chosen “one”, I am dedicated to continuing my advocacy for both her rights and those of families like mine.
My dear friend, Georgianna Junco-Kelman (an amazing attorney advocate for special needs families and mama to three boys, one of whom has special needs) was event co-chair and did a phenomenal job of putting together both an inspirational and entertaining evening; all in the name of raising awareness for autism.
I reflected on my early days after Arizona’s initial diagnosis, nearly 10 years ago. I was confused, scared and completely overwhelmed. I immediately mourned the loss of having a “normal” child. Some days, I was embarrassed and felt like it was my fault my child had special needs. I took the news hard, and couldn’t imagine finding hope and happiness again. But somehow, that’s exactly what happened for me: I found a way to heal the deep wound of thinking something was wrong with my child and discover (and get excited about) the unlimited possibilities available both for her and me.
Last night I was so touched to be surrounded by my mommy / girlfriend community, all of whom are a constant source of support and inspiration to me. They love me and they love my Arizona. We dressed up in BLUE, to honor the cause. We laughed and felt deep emotion throughout the touching program. At one point during the evening, I had the distinct realization that I have never been prouder about something in my life: my role as an “Autism Mama.”
Autism Speaks: thank you for shining so much light on families like mine. I feel supported and I am grateful.
***Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.