I’ll never forget the experience of attending the Green Our Vaccines Rally in DC last summer. Walking down Independence Avenue with my husband, our three kids, my sister, her baby, and my step mother was an awe inspiring moment in time. Looking up at my husband as we smiled and cried, along with everyone else… it was all so overwhelmingly emotional.
To have so many parents and their children with autism gather in one spot was very powerful. It sent a loud and clear message to the world, as well as filling us, the parents, with a renewed feeling of camaraderie - something we cherish, yet feel anguish over (the fact that there are so many families affected). My husband and I had always felt so alone, like no one would or could ever understand our situation. That all changed for us on June 4, 2008.
I imagine our friends in the UK had a similar experience on March 28th, 2009, when parents and their children with autism, gathered and marched in London. Many pictures ( HERE ) and videos ( HERE ) have surfaced, as well as an excellent written piece by Allison Edwards on Age of Autism ( HERE ) - FYI: I made it as far as, “…the bagpipers struck up on a rousing note,” before I started blubbering like a baby.
Many inspiringly beautiful images of the UK Rally are being shared on the internet; but, the one image that stood out to me was a simple picture of a boy with a sign. That boy is Ryan, who is homeschooled. His homeschool is called “The Ohana Secondary Home School” (so named for the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch ). Read the sign below to get the point of the name.
This is Ryan with his sign:
This is Ryan with his mom (Mo):
And here is a close up of the sign (thanks Mo for the pics!):
I was really struck by the message on Ryan’s sign: Ohana… because Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind… or forgotten. Ohana should be the new slogan for autism. Millions of kids around the world are being left behind, forgotten. We, the parents, are doing our damnedest to change that. And we’ll continue to fight for our kids until the end of our days.
I am so proud of all our brothers and sisters in arms in the UK. Standing up to the U.S. government is one thing, marching in London (where real life witch trials seem to be occurring - we love you Dr. Wakefield!) is a whole new level of brave. Bravo guys, and Ohana!