photo by chris shaffner
On March 5, at Southdale Center in Edina, the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) hosted the first Steps of Hope for Autism in Minnesota walk. AuSM provides resources to families and employers who want to create nonjudgmental spaces for individuals with autism, and funds go to AuSM programs, as well as scholarships for camp, social skills classes, and more.
Michelle Mohr: My 6-year-old son, Mikey, has autism. He has meltdowns. It’s not his or anyone’s fault. We just need space and understanding. He likes to have fun just like anyone else.
Levi Thiesen: Resources for autism are usually hard to find, especially if you live in more rural areas. I’m from up north, but I moved to St. Michael to be closer to resources for my two boys who are both on the spectrum. This is a fun event for the kids. When you go to other places, maybe your child doesn’t fit in. At this event, there’s more acceptance.
Sara Szathmary: Parents never expect that their child won’t meet the milestones like other children who are considered neuro-typical. Since our 3.5-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, navigating through the system has been part of our journey. There can be long waiting lists for services. We have three insurances to cover his services.
Alisha Gagnon: My 9-year-old daughter, Jordan, always knew she was special, but she only just recently understood that she has autism. We had tried to explain it, but she had a panic attack because she thought it was bad. Then one day she was talking with her therapist, who explained that she was special. It just kind of clicked for her. She saw a flyer for this event and said, “We have to do this, Mom!”
As told to Nancy Rosenbaum. Interviews have been condensed and edited.