My name is Alan Dunn.
My son was diagnosed at age 4 with Autism and my world stopped. Like many parents, I didn’t know where to turn, who to believe or what to do. The word Autism was no longer a word that was invisible to me; it was a word that defined my world.
I struggled at first. I still do. It’s easy for others to tell me “You are not alone,” but the reality is many of us Autism parents are. We live with Autism 24/7. Our siblings, cousins and grandparents typically don’t understand, so the battle is ours and ours alone.
Hearing your child is on the spectrum affects almost every emotion. Your life becomes filled with questions and never enough answers. This journey is not easy by any measure. However, if you let it, you will quickly find out you are never really alone.
Autism is a word many of our parents never used or were often afraid to speak. Today things are much different. The word Autism is part of almost everyone’s vocabulary and there are so many great resources around to help educate about the challenges and joys ahead. The greatest resource being community.
A few years ago I purchased the domain name AutismAwareness.com with the vision of creating a community of people facing the same challenges, embracing the same small joys (it only took him 18 minutes to get dressed this morning!) and really understanding what it takes to be a special-needs parent. Well, we did it!
Over the last year, our Facebook community has grown from a handful of friends to more than 150,000 people. According to Wikipedia, that’s larger than the population of New Haven, CT and Charleston, SC, or more than half the size of Orlando. This is huge. Comparably, Autism Speaks has a Facebook community of 1.6 million – so we’re roughly 10% of that, and growing every day.
My staff (and I) have met some incredible people developing this community, such as the writers behind such great blogs as Family Life and Autism, The AWEnesty of Autism, a Slice of Autism, Two Brothers One Journey, The Little Puddins Blog and more.
We have also connected tens of thousands of people to other autism blogs and shared articles of hope, inspiration and joy among people all over the world. Raising a child with special needs is rarely ever what was planned, but it can be amazing if you let it.
My son has autism and he is AUSOME®. I bet yours are too.