Teams walk to understand autism (video)
April 27, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2013 at 11:28 p.m.
Albert Ramos is a 15-year-old at Victoria East High School, but he hates going, said his mom, Mary Ramos.
"He got to middle school, and he was so excited to be with the older crowd. ... But as he got further along, he would get pushed, get his backpack pushed off. They would taunt him," Ramos said.
He is bullied and teased, she believes, because the students and even some of the teachers don'tdon't understand understand autism - so they don't understand Albert.
And that is why Ramos got involved with the third annual Victoria Walk for Autism so that more people will learn about autism.
"I want him to meet kids who are like him so he can feel free to say, 'I want to go to the movies.' Or he can get out and go stay the night with someone, and I can know the parent will understand him, will know his condition. And for me, to meet other moms who deal with this," Ramos said, saying she joined the group about a month ago.
Jennifer Davis and Valerie Medina, cousins, started the walk in 2011 and raised $10,000.
They sent the money to the Autism Society in Austin.
Davis, whose 25-year-old brother has autism, said she was disappointed when none of the money made it back to Victoria.
So in 2012, Davis and Medina gave the money to the Autism Network Connection, an area organization begun by Rosemary Watts in 2011. The group offers support and even scholarships for people in the area with autism.
When Albert was diagnosed at 3 years old, Ramos said she felt alone because there was little support or awareness in the community.
"I didn't even know what Asberger's or autism meant. It was a horrible shock, and I would cry myself to sleep, thinking I'm the worst mother because he didn't want to hug me, he didn't want to touch me," Ramos said.
Watts' 7-year-old son was also diagnosed when he was 3, and she was driven to help others accept her son.
"When I found out, there was hardly anything in the community - no resources, no support groups, and I knew I had to do something," Watts explained.
And she believes they are off to a strong start.
With 53 teams pre-registered for Saturday's event and about 10 people on each team, Walk for Autism packed Riverside Park, despite the heavy rain.
"Rain or shine, autism never stops, so we are going to continue with the day," Medina said to the large crowd as the rain poured.