Austin is one of the most kind, energetic and bubbly children I know. He can’t talk though.
Austin is one of the many children today that is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He has one of the more severe forms that prohibit him from being able to express himself in words.
I have known Austin since he was about 5 years old. Our brothers played baseball together so I always saw him at games running around and trying to get people to play with him. Even though I was much older than Austin, we played. I knew something was “wrong” with him, but I didn’t know what. All I knew was he needed a friend and that I would be that for him.
I have not seen Austin in about a year because I’ve been at OSU, but he is a freshman in high school now and from what I understand, he is doing great. He is still going to speech therapy and trying to conquer this disorder, while living a happy, normal life.
Autism affects one in 68 children, with the majority being males, according to Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization. No two cases of autism are alike, which makes it hard for researchers and doctors to find a cure. When I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to do something in college that could help Austin.
When I came to Ohio State and went through sorority recruitment, it was such a whirlwind and frankly, I don’t remember much of it. However, I remember that on philanthropy round, when the women discuss their chapter’s selected charity, one house stuck out to me: Alpha Xi Delta.
Alpha Xi Delta was decked out in blue on philanthropy round day. From the blue food to the blue decorations, I could tell that it had to do with their philanthropy in some way. And it did.
Alpha Xi Delta’s national philanthropy is Autism Speaks and the color of autism awareness and Autism Speaks is blue. I was so moved by the stories some sisters told as well as the video they shared with us.
I left that round knowing that I had a connection with that sorority and that I wanted to be a part of that organization because it gave me a connection to home. I joined Alpha Xi Delta and since then have been very passionate about our philanthropy.
It is hands on. We don’t just write a check and send it off to some charity in a different state. We volunteer with children. We make them crafts. We fundraise. We are passionate about our philanthropy and the possibility of finding a cure someday.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and everyone, everywhere is encouraged to “Light It Up Blue.” This means wear blue, put blue lights on your house, etc. All blue, everything.
The entire month of April is also Autism Awareness Month. Many organizations and businesses hold events all throughout the month of April to raise awareness about autism and to get people on board to support the cause. White Castle is a huge supporter of Autism Speaks. My sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, is also doing things throughout the month of April, including our spring philanthropy event, Grillin’ with the Xi’s, on April 12.
Odds are, with one in 68 children being affected by autism, you know someone that has been affected. Everyone has a story to tell and these stories need to be heard.
Autism prevalence is growing around the world and while there is no detected cure, the more research that is done, the better. Support autism awareness on April 2 and the whole month of April by wearing Austin’s favorite color: