Autism awareness is something that I am extremely passionate about. I have been asked by countless organizations, event planners, high schools, and colleges to come and speak for them and to share my family's journey with Autism. I wanted to do it all, but my fear of public speaking was holding me back and I was feeling horrible about it. Instead, I was spreading as much awareness as I could through social media, countless blog interviews and magazine articles as well as supporting many Autism fundraisers as a special guest. I even started to put together all of my own resources and information I have gathered throughout my Autism journey to share with everyone on my website www.JacquelineLaurita.com. I even answered many emails from families needing advice. I do what I can do.
I knew that to be an even better Autism advocate, I needed to get over my fear of public speaking. My husband knew that as well, and he believed in me, so he put me up to speaking at "The Knock Out Autism" event at House of Sports in Ardsley, NY. The event was benefitting Generation Rescue. I wanted to do it so badly, but I was terrified.
Generation Rescue was one of the first organizations my husband and I reached out to for help at the beginning of our Autism journey along with Autism Speaks. We knew that Jenny McCarthy was involved in that organization, and since I had read her books about her and her son Evan's journey with Autism, I really wanted to ask her some questions about how she recovered her son. My husband and I met with Jenny and Generation Rescue's Executive Director, Candace McDonald, even before Nicholas got his Autism diagnosis. They led Chris and I to the right doctors and shared other resources with us. Generation Rescue has been very supportive.
Since my husband and I were so grateful for all of their help, Chris decided to give a portion of the BLK beverages proceeds back to Generation Rescue for rest of 2013. Generation Rescue is a national non-profit organization providing immediate treatment assistance, information, and hope to families affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Second to burning to death, public speaking is one of the biggest things people fear. I know I'm not alone. My mouth gets dry, my tongue swells, my heart starts beating really fast, I break out in hives, I have to keep going to the bathroom, and/or I cry. It terrifies me, and I'm not sure why. Being in front of a camera is much different. I was literally put in the middle of a gym, by myself, facing hundreds of people (besides being on national TV) to speak. There was no way out of this one unless I was to pass out. Everyone was being so supportive and I really appreciated that. I didn't want to let anyone down, including myself.
My son works so hard every day for all his accomplishments. If he can work as hard as he does to get out of his comfort zone, then so could I. I had to do this for myself, for my son, for other families going through this and for autism awareness for people who may not understand it. I decided that the only way to get over my fears was to just face them. My speech was actually 7 big index cards long, so it is unfortunate that you didn't get to hear the whole thing and get to hear my whole message. You saw it in TV time. I introduced Nick, CJ, and my husband at the end of my speech. Ashlee was still in California. I was thrilled that I got through it!
You'll be happy to hear that since then, I have spoken at several Autism events. Chris and I were one of the key note speakers on a panel with Jenny McCarthy and Alexis Wineman (Miss Montana) at an Autism One Conference held in Chicago. It was quite the experience.
I'm also speaking at a Sparkle Speaks Event put on by my two nieces, Candace and Christina, benefitting Autism Speaks this Thursday, September 19, 2013 at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park NJ from 6-10 p.m.
In November, Chris and I are actually leading the Key Note Panel at the National Autism Association (NAA) conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida! Come see us!
These are HUGE accomplishments for me. I'm so excited! The more I do it, the more confident I feel. I still bring my notecards for safety, but at least I'm up there and talking instead of passing out or something. The only way for me to get better at it is to just do it! I faced my fears and I am so proud of myself. I not only survived, but I surpassed my expectations.I was grateful to have Teresa helping me with ideas for my speech. She was trying really hard to be more attentive to the struggles I was dealing with, and I was trying really hard to just be there for her if she needed me without asking too many questions. If she ever reached out and needed me, of course I would be there.
I'm glad you got a moment to see my son's music therapist, Jammin Jenn, working with him. She is incredible! Check out her website and YouTube channel to see her amazing work. Follow her on Twitter @JennGoodman1. She needs to come out with her own show, learning videos, CDs or something! She's really impressive and you can see her passion for these kids and what she does.Kathy's cannoli kit makes cannoli's so easy to make and they taste delicious. They make a great presentation for any event. It looks like you put effort into it making something special, but the kit has actually made it so simple. You can also get more creative with them by dipping them into different sprinkles, chocolate chips, mini m&m's, chocolate, etc. Everyone loves them!
Just when all is seemingly calm in New Jersey, another storm is brewing. Tune in next week to see what happens. The drama is never ending!