A Whole Blue World

As many of you know, I reached my fundraising goal of $1,500.00 late last month. What a great feeling, both being able to raise so much and seeing the support that so many friends have given us. Every donation has been a moving testimony to Katie and me that we’re not alone in this journey.

But as inspiring as it has been to come this far, I believe we can go farther. I know there are still people out there who need just a little more encouragement—or a couple more reminders. There are still aunts and uncles, cousins and godparents, co-workers and neighbors, friends and even frenemies out there, just waiting for another invitation.

So here’s the new incentive. If I can get to the $2,000.00 level before the walk, I’ll dye my whole head blue. Yup—the entire cranium. All it takes is $500.00. That’s just $50.00 from 10 people. Or $100.00 from 5 people. Or $25.00 from 20 people. That’s not too hard to imagine, is it?

And if you do give, here’s how your donation will be put to work.

First, there’s Autism Speaks’ research program, which makes grants to pediatricians, geneticists, psychologists, neurologists, and other professionals delving into the causes and treatments of autism spectrum disorders. The program also includes the Autism Genetic Research Exchange (AGRE), which is building a comprehensive research database comprised of DNA, clinical, and medical information from families with two or more children on the autism spectrum. Needless to say, our family is a mother lode of information for them! We’ve been part of the AGRE project for the past three years, and it feels great knowing that we’re able to help.

There are also a number of online tool kits developed by Autism Speaks. The most popular is their 100 Day Kit, which was created for parents of newly-diagnosed children. Those first few months are often filled with anxiety and loads of questions, and this online tool offers expert guidance to help parents acclimate themselves to their new reality. Other tool kits give parents information concerning medication options, various behavioral treatments, and navigating challenging events like dental visits and potty training.

Next, there’s Autism Votes, the lobbying arm of Autism Speaks. The purpose of this group is to advocate for laws that will protect people on the spectrum. Some states still don’t require insurance companies to cover behavior therapy or speech and occupational therapies to people with an ASD diagnosis. Autism Votes is in these states, working to convince lawmakers that the upfront cost of these requirements is far less than the long-term costs of caring for people who never learned the skills they needed to help them function in the outside world. Autism Votes was also instrumental in getting the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) through the House and Senate. This act secured nearly $700 million in federal dollars over three years for autism research, treatment, and services. It’s still not where it should be, but at least there’s movement.

See how much good you’ll be doing if you make a pledge? It’s not about making me dye my hair blue; it’s about helping to improve the lives of families touched by ASD. It’s about figuring out what causes this thing in the first place. It’s about making the world a more welcoming place for folks on the spectrum. So if you haven’t made a donation yet, go ahead. Push me over the $2,000.00 mark. You can help make a difference in so many lives. And if you’ve already donated, thank you so much. You’ve already made a huge difference!

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