2012 Autism Walk @ OC Great Park

Great Park Balloon

This year the 2012 Walk Now for Autism Speaks Orange County was held at a new location – the Orange County Great Park! (Last year it was at the Angel’s Stadium.) This was our third year walking to create autism awareness. We usually come to visit the huge resource fair – it’s always stroller-friendly and family-friendly with fun bounce houses and activities, but this year it included balloon rides and a carousal (which is always free at the Great Park by the way). Among some of the sponsors were Sprouts Farmers Market, Bourbon Street Restaurant, PBS SoCal, and 93.1 Jack FM (only to name a few). The resource fair started at 8am and stayed until 1pm. The walk kicked-off at 10am but we didn’t start walking til about 10:30am. It’s suppose to be at your own pace so you had the option to walk 1 mile, 3 miles, or until your child wants to go back in the middle of it to ride carousal or balloon rides (that was my child but no one judged us). Volunteers were there to hand out water and cheer you on (love that part). They cheered at us as we passed them up at the beginning of the walk and again when we made it back.

The WALK Location:
El Toro Field
Orange County Great Park
Irvine, CA

You can learn more about the park here.

Where was the Photographer this Year?

the past years, there was a designated area with a professional
photographer that took our Team Photos. We couldn’t find them anywhere.
We worked hard to get our families and friends to come support us, and we would like a
professional photo. We asked bystanders to take our pictures and some didn’t even
know how to work a camera. Autism Speaks, please bring them back next

How Would You Compare this to the Previous Walk?
I asked a friend who walked with us last year to compare the two walks and this is what she wrote:
“We had a wonderful time at the Autism Speaks walk this year which was held at the Great Park in Irvine. The weather was beautiful. This is our second year doing the walk. The first year was at Anaheim Stadium. We missed the Star Wars characters and getting a group photo with the Autism Speaks frame. In general, the event is an incredible resource for local families affected by autism. As a parent of a child with autism, I am encouraged by all the support and community this event brings together and will continue to support it, because it raises awareness of autism.”
Another Mom (2nd Year Walking)

Meet Team Jacob

It was my friend Melynda’s first year walking so of course I wanted to get her feedback. Melynda’s huge family came out to support Team Jacoball 49 of them! They chose the color yellow because it is a happy color plus it was their son’s favorite color. They liked that the walk was well organized and very spacious. They plan to walk again next year and are already talking about making a bigger and better sign.

“The best part was having my family and friends there!” – Melynda

More About Jacob
Jacob received services through the Regional Center of OC when he was 26 months old and was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 31 months old.
He is currently receiving help through their local School District as well as ABA and Parent
through Regional Center. The after school services train parents to address tantrums in community outings, feeding issues, potty training, flighting issues or anything they need help with.

Jacob currently 4, uses PECS to communicate. Since the start of services, they have seen much improvement – he is now more social, more attentive, eats better, and follows instructions with less tantrums. Their biggest worry is will he be able to independently take care of himself in the future without them?

Any advice for a parent that has concerns or a new parent that is newly diagnosed?
“Yes, I would tell them to try to accept the diagnosis as quickly as possible so they can get their child the help that they really need. Instead of being sad (and all of us go through the mourning phase), I felt like I had to
do something about it. The sooner you get your child help, the sooner
they will get better. Also try to find a local support group, get more involved with
the autism community, and attend classes and workshops to educate yourself.”

Thanks so much, Melynda, for sharing your story!
An Aerial View from the Great Balloon Ride

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright,
grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus
donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since
then, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science
and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the
causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing
awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of
individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we’ve
been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the
years ahead.

Learn more about Autism Speaks.
Learn more about Walk Now for Autism Speaks Orange County.

This is a non-sponsored post. I just wanted to share what it was like to WALK this year at the Great Park and hoped by sharing Melynda’s story, others will be open minded about early intervention and autism. Everyone’s experience will be different. I purposely left out some info to protect the families’ privacy.
All images are own by Let’s Play OC!

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