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    Posted September 5, 2012 by

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    Autism Advocacy in America


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     4Sam is the mother of Sam Wessels, a fifth grader in Rock Rapids, Iowa. She says he is well spoken and it's almost hard to tell sometimes that he has autism, but he wants politicians to know that there are many other people with autism who cannot speak for themselves. 'Somebody needs to stand up for them as well,' she said.

    In an article she wrote for The Age of Autism, she describes the moment when Sam spoke to President Obama:

    'Once he reached us, I instructed Sam, "Tell the president what you have to say." ... The president leaned closer, completely engaged in what Sam had to say to him. To say I was impressed in his sincerity in hearing Sam's message would not serve the moment due justice. I was in absolute awe at the amount of time he spent with this one child. Sam told his president his name and age. He made sure President Obama knew he was honored to meet him. He then asked President Obama if he would please join him in standing up for people with autism. He further explained that he himself stands up for people with autism because he has autism, and although he is able to speak for himself, too many people with autism are not and someone needs to stand up for them as well. The presidents reply? "Sam, I will gladly stand up with you for people with autism. As a matter of fact, I had already planned to stand up for those who have autism. Autism is an enormous issue and I have a plan." He thanked Sam for his courage in standing up for something he cares about as well as for taking the time to come and see him in person to deliver his message face to face.'

    The Wessels are Republicans, but Sam's mom says she is keeping an open mind.

    Watch Sam talk about autism in this iReport video he recorded for Autism Awareness Month earlier this year.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Our 10 year old son who has autism has advocated for himself and others, meeting all of the GOP hopefuls and hoping to one day meet his president on behalf of those with autism. In America, dreams can and do come true......


    We have met and questioned very nearly every candidate who has campaigned in our home state of Iowa, candidates from the current year's presidential race as well as the last. (See photos) Our list is long and impressive, however that is not why do what we do. We do it because we CAN. We do it because we understand our inalienable basic human rights in this great land of ours; we also understand that with those rights comes responsibility. We take those rights along with the responsibilities very seriously. Above all else, we do it because we love our son. WE love him beyond measure. We do it to help him not only learn that he is every bit as valued as the next person, but to BELIEVE it as well.


    Most recently, September 1, 2012, to be exact, we were successful in meeting our president. Yes, our president. President Barack Obama. The very magnitude of that still brings tears to my eyes. I honestly don't think I can describe not only what that meant to us, but how that felt. I was as giddy as a teenage girl on a first date with the anticipation of the mere POSSIBILITY that we would be successful in meeting our country's leader, let alone speak with him. It was such a long shot.


    So how does one go about meeting the president of the United States of America?


    Read on: http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/09/advocating-in-america-for-autism-how-we-met-president-obama.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ageofautism+%28AGE+OF+AUTISM%29

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