I know this is a little off topic, there's hardly any cheese, beer, or Hot Tub Time Machines involved. Still, I wanted to pass the info along. I work in Portland as an advocate for kids and adults with Autism; I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was 14, and my little brother has the same diagnosis. I didn't really plan to do this kind of work, but I fell into some speaking opportunities and found that I really enjoyed it. I serve on the board of directors for the Autism Society of Oregon (ASO), I work with several other local nonprofit groups, and I am on the governor's State Commission on Autism, specifically working to improve the transition services and options for kids with Autism who are leaving high school and moving into adulthood.
Sunday, April 18th is the largest fundraiser ASO will hold this year, the Autism Walk-a-thon. You can walk, sponsor a team, or simply donate whatever you can give through the website. The Walk will be held at Oaks Park, registration starts at 9:30 and the event begins at 10:30 AM. Charlie Girl from 97.1 FM will be there, and heck, you can ride the Oaks Park rides while you're there. I will be running the ASO resource table, talking about what we do and handing out information, but I wouldn't mind a break to talk some football / basketball coaching search / Fuskies trash talk.
ASO is a local organization, though we're part of the larger Autism Society of America. Everything we do is local, we don't take this money and send it to the national board or anything like that. We're hosting support groups for kids, adults, and parents, sharing information and awareness with the community, and this fall we plan to bring a very exciting and unique conference to Portland (no, not the Pac-12). I'm the first person with Autism to serve on the Board and my personal focus is on spreading awareness and making things easier for the next generation; things were not easy for me growing up and no kid should have to go through that stuff. I also speak to groups about my experiences as an adult with Autism, talking about problem-solving, sensory issues, and my belief that none of us can be defined by a label, stereotype, or diagnosis. I'm starting to make plans to hold a forum next month, to talk with parents and teachers in Portland about these issues as well as answer questions. If that interests anyone feel free to drop me an e-mail.