When I was 3 years old, my brother Chip was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a 3-year-old, I didn't care. All I knew is that he was my baby brother, I wanted to stick gum in his hair for no reason, and have him chase me all around the house.
As we got older, however, I did notice that Chip was a little different than me and my sister. He flapped his hands and made loud noises. He would rewind YouTube videos and repeatedly quote them when we were out in public. My mom explained autism as "Chip's brain just works differently from the rest of ours." I didn't understand autism then, and still to this day I don't fully understand it. It's something that is just so familiar to me that I don't think about it anymore. Honestly, I went through a brief phase when I was embarrassed by the way he behaved. Now, I'm embarrassed to admit I was embarrassed by Chip.
He's my best friend now. I can honestly say I do not know what my life would be like without Chip in it. He has made me a more inclusive, outgoing, loving, and passionate person just by the way he goes through life with his big, cheesy smile.
Autism Speaks has done so much for my family ever since we discovered Chip had autism. It has given us hope that someday, Chip will be able to convey his needs and wants without getting frustrated in his lack of ability to do so.
Now, let me make this VERY clear. I don't think Chip needs to be "cured" of autism. Autism is what makes Chip who he is, and I love him with every fiber of my being.Chip is not a burden. I am aware of that stereotype of people with disabilities. Chip doesn't think he's a burden and neither does my family or I. He's just a fun-loving guy who really likes pizza and trains, and we love him more and more every day.
My family and I have been involved with our local Autism Speaks walk as long as I can remember. It's a day where we can celebrate Chip and every person who has been affected by autism. There is music, speakers, balloons, bounce houses, food, and so much action. You'd think for a kid with autism all of the noise and people would be overwhelming, but no. He LOVES it.
Chip wakes up every year on the day of the walk knowing that it's his day. It makes me happy to see him get so excited about Autism Speaks.
I fundraise for Autism Speaks because Chip is the best person I know. Autism Speaks provides kids like Chip with the resources they need to communicate. I couldn't be more thankful for Autism Speaks.