Amidst the brightly shining sun, the mixture of loud music in the air, and the smell of fried foods, our American Autism Association booth colorfully stood out and invited people from all over to strike up a conversation.

This past weekend we attended the Vans Warped Tour to raise autism awareness with attendees. We set up a table in the United Tent, a space shared collectively by non-profit organizations. Our goal was to raise autism awareness and the work AAA does.

Sarahelena Barrios (left) and Hannah Yep (right) sitting at our table for the American Autism Association along with all of our items (Photo taken by Eliane Abou-Assi)

Visitors ranged in age, background, and interest in our work. Parents, siblings, and special needs teachers shared small anecdotes about their loved ones on the autism spectrum while also showing support for the work we do.

Hearing from parents that were so supportive of their children with their disorders and of our organization, and then listening to others talk about countries where mental disorders are more stigmatized caught our attention. The juxtaposition between the two points of view were quite shocking. Hearing from a psychologist in Sweden who was in New York for her honeymoon, we learned about how Swedish parents are less likely to get their kids diagnosed because they do not want to verify their suspicions and would rather be blissfully ignorant.

This just made us all the more grateful for our positions at the American Autism Association. We get to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how to help families with autism. In addition, we are able to offer support to these families and hear beautiful stories about parents encouraging their children to do their best and helping them feel valued.

Inspiring tattoo of a girl who came by and supported our organization (Photo by Eliane Abou-Assi)

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend this festival and speak with people who care about ASD and are willing to do something to help the cause. Without our table, this festival would have been nearly as exciting for us had we not been able to meet others sharing their stories and supporting our organization.

If anyone is interested in having the American Autism Association at an event, please contact us through our email [email protected].

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