A Glenview mom assured her neighbors, friends and family that she was not celebrating Hanukkah in April when she decorated her home in blue and lit up the neighborhood.
April 2 launched World Autism Month and the Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign, where several historic landmarks around the world were adorned in blue lights. These included the White House, Empire State Building, Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Macau Tower in China and Niagara Falls, according to autismspeaks.org.
“We lit up our home in blue to show support for our 17-year-old son, Michael, and to raise awareness for autism,” said Connie Nadia Dornan of Glenview. “On April 30th, Autism Speaks will be hosting the North Shore Walk in Northfield to help raise much needed funds for research, support and education for the autistic community.”
The walk will be held at the Northfield campus of New Trier High School. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. before the 9 a.m. walk. The Dornans will host the second annual “Team Michael” event, but this is the first year that they lit their house blue.
Dornan said they will have a raffle with prizes, which include a two-night stay at the Kohler Resort in Wisconsin, a membership to either the Field Museum or the Chicago Botanic Garden, and four tickets for Six Flags Great America.
Dornan said 40 people will walk with Team Michael, and many have already made donations. “Our initial goal for the walk was $5,000, and we’ve already raised over $5,600 so far with the help and support of all of the people who are joining us on the walk.”
Dornan has been a broker for @properties for four years and said she will donate $100 for every listing that she sells in April. The family has lived in Glenview for 13 years, which is about when she began her real estate career.
Dornan explained why raising funds for Autism Speaks is so important. “Michael was first diagnosed at four, and I had to go digging around and asking questions, because there weren’t enough services for these kids,” she said. “Prior to his diagnosis, I thought he was a spirited child. He was definitely different, but I didn’t know what it was because he was still making all of his milestones.”
As Michael was getting older, Dornan noticed the differences between him and other “neurotypical children getting wider and wider,” so she decided to have him evaluated by professionals.
“Recently people have discovered that we need more programs for children and we have to support families,”
Dornan said vocational training programs, inclusions in school, and having trained staff to meet autistic children’s needs are all new concepts. “It’s not like one size fits all. You can have a room full of children who have been diagnosed on the spectrum, and each one is completely different. They’ll have some commonality in terms of repetition or OCD, (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) but they’ll all react and respond in a completely different manner.”
Dornan added that Autism Speaks is one of the largest organizations for families who have autism. “They do a lot of funding, research, and advocacy,” she said. “I use it as a resource to find the right type of contacts for us.”
Here are some facts about autism, according to Autism Speaks:
- Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
- Autism prevalence figures are growing
- Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
“We’re very proud of Michael,” said Dornan. “All of us are looking forward to Sunday, April 30. “Hopefully it will be a beautiful day like last year that will draw an even bigger crowd, and we’ll raise some money and have some fun.”
For more information visit act.autismspeaks.org.