Are you familiar with that rare feeling of comfort, when your child with autism is the center of everyone’s very public attention for a good reason – his or her birthday? It is a truly unique sense of relaxation, when your family and friends all know and are lovingly accepting of the fact that while your son or daughter may appear to be typical, they are not.
The decision to embark on this journey, to form a non-profit organization of our own, was based purely on personal experience and due in large part to the inquisitive, rude and sometimes hostile glances at playgrounds and restaurants where we began to recognize our gradual avoidance of public places, born not at all out of shame, embarrassment or the acquiescence to other patrons but the constant and unyielding need to protect our two sons with autism. What we eventually realized was that our boys could not be themselves in these places and have fun in their own way simply because we couldn’t, and a change in venue would not suffice. AUPTIMISM is in a way Jaime’s third child, and it was her idea that if we could not change society, we could perhaps create our own for the day – a new “normal”.
The main focus of AUPTIMISM is to organize events specifically for individuals on the spectrum, at various locations entirely to themselves, but what differentiates this from a special daycare is parental involvement. Though a trained and highly qualified staff is provided for play, guidance and safety, and while it is strongly encouraged for parents to mingle, network and support one another, the essence of our organization is to allow parents and children to interact in public places the way they want to, in ways only parents in similar situations could understand, and to fortify that connection that is sadly and too often inhibited in public places.
We will raise money to organize autism-friendly events as many parents dealing with autism sadly hesitate to take their children to activities such as roller skating, bowling, or simply going to the park. This leaves the children at an enormous disadvantage, depriving them of the opportunity to learn to socialize and adapt to the world around them. At these events there will be optional sharing sessions during which parents of children with special needs can discuss their experiences with the resources currently available for helping their children excel.
We don't have words to express our appreciation to you for making our events such a wonderful occasions and true successes. As you know, autism is not an illness, not temporary, and neither is Auptimism. We, you, all of us, need to see today not one event but the beginning of a movement. Please help us gather momentum, to get bigger and better, and to make it possible to create many more events. Please continue to spread Auptimism wherever you go or post, because it is only with the kindness and generosity of others that we can fulfill this special need and put all these pieces together. Thanks again, and we hope to see you at the next event!
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