I rarely cry about my son’s autism these days. I do get frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, and sometimes sad. But tonight when I went into check in on my little Ollie sleeping, I felt tears streaming down my face. It caught me off guard.
Every night I look at all of my kids when they are sleeping. They are each so dear and precious in their sleeping states. Watching Ollie sleep always fills my heart with an extraordinary mix of feelings and emotions. When he has a tough day, it’s so nice to see him not battling with the world and to see him at such peace. When he’s had a happy day, I can see the smile lines still on his face. He always has a slight smile on his sleeping face. He is just beautiful.
My husband and I spent the weekend involved in the first Autism Hackathon for Microsoft’s Bing Fund. I was honored to be asked to speak on Friday evening. A few of us spoke to the challenges that autism presents to our everyday lives from the perspective of a parent, the child, and a few knowledgable doctors. The audience was comprised of mostly developers and designers. They confronted a topic that wasn’t familiar to them and were tasked with creating technological solutions for the challenges children with autism of different stages face. They then formed teams and worked hard the next two days on their products. Some of the developers and designers involved have children with autism and others just wanted to rise to the challenge. And that they did. They bravely assumed the daunting task of comprehending the daily obstacles that someone who lives with autism incurs. They each poured their hearts and tremendous talents into 11 very different and compelling product prototypes. On Sunday, we judged these products. It was a true struggle to judge them because every single one of them would affect so many lives in such positive ways. It was by far the nicest weather in recent memory in Seattle yet these fine individuals confined themselves to the indoors to VOLUNTEER to work feverishly on their products. Even the founder of Surf Incubator, where the Hackathon was hosted, headed up one of the 11 products.
The tears that I shed were those of hope. I was so touched by the selflessness of a community of technologically skilled and devoted souls who gathered together, committed to help a growing community of children diagnosed with autism and their parents.
I know that a lot of parents in similar shoes often struggle to hold onto hope for their children with autism. Some often get lost in the cycle of having and losing hope as they see their child bounce through what seem like endless struggles. I wish that I could have bottled the hope, passion, and intensity of the individuals that gathered this weekend. Wow.
Rahul Sood, who lead this extraordinary effort, did a formidable job of bringing his commitment to this cause forward in a dignified and passionate manner. Although he does not have a child on the autism spectrum, he knows well the challenges that society is faced with. His heart has been touched by a dear friend of his and his family whose daughter has autism.
From the bottom of this mom’s heart, I am grateful for everyone who participated. You have shown the potential of what can be by your dedication.
My heart is filled with hope.