My niece is six.
My caring, sweet, energetic, beautiful niece is six.
[insert the requisite: "Where does the time go?" here.]
It's been 3 years since she was diagnosed with autism and she's growing into a beautiful young lady.
This was huge.
I've watched Taryn become Aubrey's advocate.
I've watched her gain incredible confidence.
I've watched her grow beyond measure.
I've never been so proud.
I had the pleasure of seeing Aubrey this past March and my heart melted more than once.
This little pacing sweetheart would walk past me again and again... she's constant motion... and her eyes... Oh! You guys, her eyes...
So when she'd pace, I reach out and touch her. Sometimes her hand, sometimes her shoulder. And she'd let me. And she'd continue moving, but always touch me back.
Again and again, she'd touch back.
This, my friends, touched my heart.
You don't need eye contact to express love.
Aubrey's accomplished so much this year. She successfully accomplished her first year of elementary school and the transition from early childhood went well. Her kindergarten year was a success and she has made measurable progress with her language and social skills.
What does this mean? Well, she certainly isn't talking up a storm but her spontaneous vocabulary has expanded. Instead of repeating the same word again and again, she'll think of something else and she does this more frequently than she ever has.
Aubrey understands time a little better, too and she relishes her routine in school. Her classroom is small and she has done extremely well with the everyday routine that she and her classmates follow. In fact, just this past Tuesday this proud first-grader marched into school without my sister... Taryn says she was so excited that she could barely get her to slow down and take a picture. :)
Aubrey has made several buddies this year and loves to find new amigos to run and play with. She even attended No Limits summer camp this past July where she stayed busy with all sort of activities designed for a little lady on the go.
She continues to go to therapies and my sister continues to manage every aspect of Aubrey's life both in the classroom and out. You guys, parents of children with special needs are super-human.
And, in her super-human-ness, for the second year in a row my sister is leading a team in the Southwest Missouri Walk for Autism Speaks on September 7th. (Of course, she is.)
Last year, her team raised $4,000.00 and I would love, love, LOVE to help her team reach their goal of $5,000.00 this year. So far, the team has raised $1,415.00.
I'm asking that you consider donating $5, $10 -- whatever is in your budget to Autism research, family services and advocacy to support the thousands of families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
It's our opportunity to reach out and touch back.
1 in 88 children are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and it costs the average family $60,000 per year. (More facts here.)
To sponsor Taryn, my little sister, in the walk for Autism Speaks -- please click here
To see where Taryn's team is -- please click here. (Team M.O.C.H.A.)
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
It's very easy to donate online - see below. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE.)
Please know that I received my sister's permission before posting this.