Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright were featured in the most recent issue of the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, known as the Inky. The story, focusing on grandparents of children with autism, talks to the importance of the involvement of grandparents when a child is diagnosed with autism, or even before. Grandparents are often the first ones to notice signs that a child isn’t meeting their developmental milestones.
Suzanne and Bob started the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks back in 2007 to raise awareness in a town they call home for part of the year. Since its inception, the Walk has raised over $1.5 million. This year the whole town is showing its support with the declaration of Autism Week and over 80 restaurants turned blue this past Saturday. Thousands are expected to turn out on Saturday at Jetties Beach!
Learn more about the Walk here. Read the full story from the Inky here. Plus, read an Inky story about Friday’s “Cruise Night” for Autism Speaks at Don Allen Ford, where the Autism Speaks NASCAR race car will be on display, and read an Inky story about progress in autism research here.
This is a guest post from Codie Perry, a junior at Nantucket High School in the Perfect Pals program. Perfect Pals is Nantucket High School’s mentoring club for students with disabilities in Nantucket, MA. The goal of Perfect Pals is to provide socialization, role models and friends for the individuals with disabilities; well-deserved respite for parents; and a rewarding and memorable experience for all of the club members.
My decision to join the group Perfect Pals has been one of the greatest choices I have made in my life. It has opened my heart and mind up and has begun a change in me. Seeing the many kids with disabilities in my community makes me sad and it has opened my mind up to the broader world. Being part of this group takes me out of my own little world and forces me to realize that there are people who have it worse off than me. And so for me to be upset over little things is insulting and just not right, and this is the change in mind set that has begun in me. But the thing is, is that all these kids are happy! They are truly and genuinely happy, and so for me to be upset over small problems is just something I do not want to do any longer. Seeing them makes me happy and knowing that just by giving a little bit of my time can completely change them and make their lives so much better. It can be thought that I am helping them but in reality, they are the ones who are truly helping me. They have taught me to enjoy life for what it is and although it may not be perfect, life is still great. They have taught me to be more understanding and compassionate of others, I feel as though I have a greater sensitivity to the needs of people. I intend to stay committed to this group and making sure that I am doing everything I can to go to the events that we set up for them because its means not only the world to them but also to me. I do not want to get caught up in the world and trying to achieve personal success and end up forgetting about our Pals. Spending time with them and being with them is what is important. I have a problem of getting caught up in different problems that I may have and start to feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders, but with all that I need to find time for them. Nothing proves a person’s character more than if they are willing to put aside their own difficulties and reach out and help someone else. I intend to keep this principle as a number one priority in my life, making sure that I am living that why as each day passes. I am so fortunate to attend Nantucket High School and to have this chance to make a difference in the lives of other kids. It is the greatest feeling in the world to know that you are making a significant difference in someone else’s live. I want to thank Mrs. Walsh and Mrs. Horyn for all that they do, and the effort that they put in, to make this program as successful as it is, and I hope that I can continue to put forth my best effort in contributing to perfect Pals. I know as a result it will have a lasting impact on not only the lives of our Pals but also in my life.
For more information, visit the Nantucket Autism Speaks Resource Center website www.autismspeaks.org/community/resources/nantucket.php.
Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, select Find a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.
Nantucket Elementary School fifth-grader Rourke Barsanti has Asperger Syndrome and he is a wonderful self-advocate and fundraiser. Last year, he did a PowerPoint presentation about people with autism and presented it to his third grade cluster. This year, he raffled off a whale that he made and donated the proceeds, $62, to Autism Speaks.
Just like Rourke, his family (mom – Sydney, dad – Bob, and brother – Beck) is very supportive of Autism Speaks and the Nantucket Autism Speaks Resource Center. His mom, Sydney Fee Barsanti, is a co-chair of the Nantucket Walk Now for Autism Speaks and a veteran team captain.