Posted by: Autism Speaks | October 9, 2009

Why I Walk: To Raise Awareness


My family won’t join my team.  The walk location is inconvenient.  We have to get up early. It would be easy to say no to this event.  But every year, we walk.  I walk to teach my son and my daughter that this is a cause worth fighting for.  I walk to show my son he’s not alone.  But the biggest reason I walk is to raise awareness; to be part of big public event that draws attention to autism. I will say it loud for all to hear – my son has autism, and this is what it looks like.  He smiles, he laughs and he talks.  He can hear you when you speak to him.  He has feelings. He’s a great kid, and not too different from any other eleven year old.

The first time anyone mentioned that my son might be autistic was February 2, 2001.   I didn’t know anything about autism then.  My picture of an autistic person was based on after school specials and Rain Man.  Since then, I have learned a lot.  One thing I have learned is that many people see autism the way I did at first. Most people have heard of autism, but their understanding is not complete.  Autism has more than one face.  One size does not fill all!

I walk for the same reason I have a ribbon on my car and several autism related shirts in my closet.  Those in the autism community might not agree on the causes or best treatments for this disorder, but we are united in trying to make the world a little friendlier for our kids. Knowledge is power, and we are the teachers.  If I can teach one person a little more about this disorder, then I have succeeded.

By Darlene Mulligan
Northern New Jersey Walk Now for Autism Speaks

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



  1. Your talk has touched me deeply although I have no children suffering from autism. I feel each one of us can make a difference. I wish my community would be more aware of this disorder in order to make life easier for those sweet children. May God help all those who can do anything and not just sit back annd watch.

  2. I love the way you tie all of the many ways you show your reason for walking — the magnet on your car, the shirts in your closet. This is a year-round, every day mission we have. And as a parent, you know that better than anyone.
    I have twin sons who were diagnosed with autism in 1996 — I can relate to your reference to after school specials and Rain Man. It’s a different
    world today — I don’t always need a paragraph to follow the word “autism”. So many actually do know what it means.
    Thank you for getting up early and making the drive. Thank you for your energy and your determination to raise awareness. And thank you for sharing that your son smiles, laughs and talks; and that he has feelings. Life can’t always be easy, but it’s obvious that you can appreciate the joy he brings you.
    Best wishes to you and your family!!

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