Posted by: Autism Speaks | September 30, 2009

Why I Walk: To Be My Son’s Voice When He Needs One


I walk in Walk Now for Autism Speaks for my son, Jacob. He was diagnosed at 21 months old after finding a doctor who would listen to me when I said there was something wrong. He’s our only child and the greatest blessing we’ve ever known. I walk and invite friends and family to walk for support, advocacy and to spread the word that our children with autism want the same things as other children – to play, to be talked to and to be loved. I walk to be my son’s voice when he needs one. I walk to show my son that I appreciate how hard he works for his accomplishments; as small as they may seem to most people, he must work long and hard to learn many things that we take for granted. I walk for my son’s friends who stop and listen to his chatter; even though they may not understand him, he loves when people talk to him as he longs for companionship. I walk for those who include my son in their games; even though he may not understand the rules, he still likes to be included. I walk for those who think of my son as a person; who loves, hurts, feels joy and pain like everyone else does, for in this is respect.

By Vicki Depenbusch
Lincoln, Neb.

Six Walk Now for Autism Speaks events took place on September 26 – British Columbia, Minnesota,  PhiladelphiaPortland,  San Diego and Western New England.

Would you like to share with our community why you walk? Please send 300 words or fewer and a photo to us at



  1. This is the most beautiful thing that I have ever read. My 5 year old son, Jo Jo is autistic, and I know what it’s like. When he tries to talk, it’s like he reaches deep down inside himself just to get the words out. You can’t really understand him unless you’ve been around him long enough to know his language. But when you hear him say your name for the first time, or when he tells you that he loves you, you immediately know that you are special to him and to his world, because you know how hard he tries to express it.


  2. I don’t hear “Mom” or “I love you” from him. He will be 7 yrs. old in 5 months.

    • Carla,
      My son is 17, and I remember saying and thinking the same thing back then. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep loving him and believing in him and “seeing” him in your “mind’s eye” as being better. Talk and relate to him just as you would anyone else-his expressive language may not be that great or not there at all but he is taking everything in, and eventually and gradually it will come out.
      Be patient, believe in him and most important, don’t give up. He’s in there……

      • Thank you, Deborah. I’m doing much better now and understanding, as realistically as possible, our relationship. Your words, which I just found now btw! are so hopeful…no crying, just believing now…Thank you and keep in touch.

  3. Long story short, I am going to school for a degree in special education with a legal focus. I actually know Vicki Depenbusch and her family (the author of this post / article). I have known her son for 7 years and to see the milestones that he has made in that time is incredible (thanks to the loving parents and great paras that he has had). He is the one to this day that has inspired me to go back to school at 40+ years old, to help be that extra voice that austic children need. I just hope I can live up to his standards as a teacher / educator. And to you Vicki, you know I will walk to the end of the earth with you and your family!

  4. What a beautiful touching story. I have a set of twins a boy/girl. They are 26 mos. and were diagnosed with Autism at 24 mos. Our journey is just beginning and I look forward to participating in Walk Now For Autism Speaks.

  5. I have 2 autistic boys, ages 12 and 11, one speaks and one doesn’t, one on the high spectrum the other on the low….my 11yrold who does not speak …often does thru his eyes—it aches my heart not knowing what he’s thinking, feeling……wanting…..we still have faith and hope that sustains us…our older one is Autistic, PDD, ADHD, hi anxiety…NOW we know the true meaning of patience, but most of all love…it took him 8 years to say “I love you too” and REALLY MEAN IT….THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD, though the other doesn’t say it, we see it everyday in his eyes, smile and hugs….

  6. I have a son with autism and he’s 5 and can not talk, he’s non-verbal, but he’s vocal. My brother’s oldest son has autism to and he’s 5 and can not talk.

  7. I too have a son with autism. He just turned 3 in June and I heard him say Mommy for the first time in July. I heart melts every time I hear him say that because I never thought I would hear. We all have to stick together and help nurture each other through our children and their unique characters. My son is the only child, but loves to be around other children. My husband and I are hoping to reach out to other families for advice or to lend a listening ear. We know how difficult this can be and found out soon was on the spectrum at 18 months, but from the outside looking in, he looks as happy as any three year old.

  8. Thank you for sharing Vicki. You have a gift to explain without complaining what it means to want your child to reach ‘typical’ in so many ways. Our family commends you for speaking out . Both our sons, Jesse and Wyatt are ASD. We are moving from MS to AT, GA in the next couple of months. We are excited to be family again. My husband is an LTC in the army and has not lived with us for 3 years including a deployment to Afghanistan. Our babies have been strong and by the grace of God have not regressed too much. Your words speak true to our hearts and please continue to do that for all of us!!

    with greatest gratitude,

    • Trish
      I was reading your comment to my article I wrote for Autism Speaks on Why I Walk and was wondering how you and your family was doing. I remember you said you were moving to GA and wondered how your sons were adjusting. Just wanted to take a moment to say I was thinking of you.

  9. I have twins boys 13 years old with autism. One of them is high function, lots of anxiety and trouble socializing. The other one is severely autistic and cannot speak at all, gets frustrated very easy and have tamtrums constantly. . It’s hard and very challenging watching them growing and wondering what the future holds. I feel better reading all the responses and knowing that I am not alone. Love and patience are the words for me.

  10. My daughter is six years old and I read the story and read all the parents responses and I feel as though we are all connected. My daughter was diagnosed at 2 1/2 and my first reaction was to cry and my next was ‘what now’? My husband and I feel that all children need a voice and we did not here her voice until November 2008. The more we expose her to the more she talks. I use every opportunity for her to learn. For all of us our children has definitely taught us patience and unconditional love and in return we give it back to them.

  11. I am going to read this letter and the responses to the Early Childhood class that I am teaching this fall at Harper College in Palatine Illinois.

  12. Hello everyone. I have a 5 year old autistis son and boy do I have my hands full! I guess I am writing because I cant really handle him anymore and I need help with some advice. He is very bad. He swears all day everyday even in school, he hits people and acts very angry all the time. I have tried everything to get him to stop or even calm down and nothing is working. I am very open to any suggestions and willing to try new things. Please anyone with any advice I’d appreciate it. Thank You

    • Angela, I saw your post on Autism Speaks and wondered how your 5 y/o son was doing. I was wondering if your son was on any medication. My son takes 2 different kinds of meds to help keep him calmer and more focused and another to keep his emotions in check. I hope to hear back from you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: