Monday, April 30, 2012

Autism Awareness Month

Francis '99
Liz Francis '99

So, here it is, almost the end of April. 

April, if you are my Facebook friend know by now, is Autism Awareness Month! 

This year, I thought I would try something new and I dedicated my Facebook page to Autism Awareness Month. Every day, I posted a new fact or thought about autism and pictures which encourage awareness and education on the subject of autism. And, I got tremendous responses! 

So many people have thanked me for doing this because a lot of them don't know much about autism. I love the feeling I get when I am able to help educate others on autism and how it is such a major part of my life. My son, Allen is almost seven now and is just thriving in first grade! He is still in the Structured Routine Center program at Sexton Mountain Elementary school which is a specialized classroom for children with autism taught by an amazing staff, including Ashlee Yokom. 

He has been showing tremendous improvement in academics, speech, and social skills. He is much more active socially and is not as tentative about initiating language. I also know this is due to his private speech therapist, Megan Snow, who has been amazing in Allen's language development. So much has been happening in our household over the last year, including the arrival of a baby cousin for Allen, who he absolutely adores! 

Overall, this April has been a good chance for me to spread the word about autism and help others understand that although April is Autism Awareness Month, autism is a daily thing for me and my family and I want others to know and appreciate both the challenges and the joys of raising a son with autism.  

For those who want to help, I am sponsoring a team in the Autism Speaks walk this August and I would love it if people would join our team and walk with us, or if you can't make it, you are welcome to make a donation towards our team. All funds go to Autism Speaks, an organization that helps educate on the topic of autism, and also researches the causes and treatments of autism so that people may benefit from new techniques. I am attaching a link to my walk page. Thanks to all who have read my Facebook page and have asked me questions about autism.  

Francis '99 was an art major with an emphasis in photography at Pacific. She is the Office Manager at Degenkolb Engineers in downtown Portland and has been with my company for a little over three years. She is about to celebrate her 13th wedding anniversary with her husband, Jason. Along with autism awareness, Francis also enjoys photography and wine tasting. She still hangs out with a lot of her friends from Pacific and they continue to hang at their old college hang-out, the Dublin Pub.  But her son, Allen, is the highlight of her life since college. 

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