Monday, April 28, 2014

Walk This Way

photo: Kate Ter Haar cc
It's exciting to see the enthusiasm among teens at my sons' school for the upcoming Autism Walk. My only regret -- and it's a biggie -- is that the walk supports Autism Speaks, an organization that's garnered a less than ideal "financial" score from the Charity Navigator watchdog group; has repeatedly demonized autistic children in its "awareness" campaigns; and, one could argue, seems to focus more on scaring people than tangibly helping to improve life for children and families experiencing autism.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would transfer at least part the Autism Walk funds to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, which actually provides grants to families -- in some cases through Joey's Fund, honoring a beautiful little girl killed in the 2012 Newtown tragedy -- for medical bills; advocacy-related legal fees; therapies; mainstream activities like art, music and horseback riding that can be extremely beneficial for autistic children and teens; and other expenses that challenge middle- and especially lower-income families.

While it may be too late this year, what about encouraging our fired-up kids next year to organize a smaller but more helpful (to real-live people with autism) walk or other event benefitting the Flutie Foundation? Alternatives to Autism Speaks can be frustratingly hard to find, but this organization -- at least as of spring 2014 -- seems to fit the bill.

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