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'Pathfinders for Autism' Launches #SayItIn68 for Autism Awareness Month


This week I’m honoring Madison, my 24-year-old daughter with autism. My inspiration comes from a challenge by Pathfinders for Autism, the nonprofit I was privileged to help found 16 years ago.

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli with daughter, Madison

In the spring of 1997, a few months after my paralysis, I joined a small group of parents of children with autism who were frustrated with the lack of guidance we were receiving from the medical and educational professionals. In those pre-internet days, we often relied on information shared between parents in the waiting rooms, carpool lines or, in my case, from a small yellow flyer in my then 5-year-old Madison’s school backpack that changed her life.

Stunned by the value of these “happenstance” discoveries, our parent group launched Pathfinders for Autism in February 2000. Our mission was simple: To share with others what we had learned to improve the lives of individuals with autism and the people who care for them. Celebrating “15 Years of Awesome,” our staff of eight — including an individual on the autism spectrum — served over 18,000 individuals in 2015.

Photo collage for Rebecca Faye Smith Galli’s post

As you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month. This year, Pathfinders’ month-long campaign centers on #SayItIn68, a challenge that highlights the fact that an estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have been identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC, while asking folks for a 68-focused submission that shares how autism awareness makes a difference or what it means to them.

So in the spirit of my new mantra, elevate, I’ve answered the challenge with this submission:

After my paralysis, I couldn’t care for Madison on my own so I hired caregivers to be with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although this year has had more rough patches than bright spots for my Madison, I’m grateful for Pathfinders’ prompt that sent me on a search through photos and calendars where I found the names of 68 caregivers who have helped me with Madison. To these amazing individuals, and all the others who continue to help me with her care, I say, “Thank you!” I couldn’t have managed without you.

Follow this journey on BeckyGalli.com.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


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