April is National Autism Awareness Month. Throughout this month, we are focused on raising autism awareness and celebrating the uniqueness of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders. The culmination of this celebration is the 3rd Annual Dan River Autism Awareness 5k on Saturday, April 26, 2014 (register here!)
To kick off Autism Awareness Month, we asked Hampton Wilkins for permission to share a message he posted on Facebook a few weeks ago:
It seems like just yesterday when I had my first encounter with autism – when actually it has been almost 10 years. It was the spring of 2004 and I had stopped in a fast food restaurant for a quick lunch. As I was eating I couldn’t help but notice a young couple and their 6 or 7 year old son. They were also accompanied by, what appeared to be the grandparents. It was obvious to me that this young boy didn’t order a “happy meal” because he was anything but happy. He was yelling, screaming , running around the table and being totaly unruley. All he wanted was the toy that came with his meal. I tried not to stare but thought to myself “why don’t they correct this kid’s behavior?”
As the family was leaving the restaurant the grandfather walked over to me and appoligized for his grandson’s behavior. Of course I responded, “I didn’t even notice”. (We both new that was not true.) Then he spoke those unforgettable words, “My grandson has autism, I’m sorry for his behavior.” Little did I know that my unborn grandson, Davis Hampton would be diagnosed with autism 18 months later.
I wish I could go back to that day and tell that grandfather and the entire family what a sweet, special child they have. I wish I could go back to that day and tell them you don’t have to appologize for your child having autism any more than you would appologize for your wife having breast cancer or a family member having Alzheimers. I wish I could go back to that day and tell that family I am the one that should have been sorry. Sorry for not understanding the effects of autism and for not being tolerant of their situation. Most of all, I am sorry for missing an opportunity to demonstrate compassion and Christian love.
I thank God for Davis.
– Hampton Wilkins
Hampton has participated in the Dan River Autism Awareness 5k every year since its inception. He also supports our efforts by providing corporate sponsorship from Wilkins & Co. Realtors. Hampton’s daughter (Davis’ mother) Catherine was a member of the planning team for the inaugural Dan River Autism Awareness 5k in 2012. She continues to be an active participant as the captain of Team Davis.
Hampton, Catherine and Davis were featured in the April 2013 issue of Showcase Magazine (read it here). We are continually inspired by families like these and children like Davis.