He has also had people in this life who have told him that his dream of travel cannot be realized -- because after all he has autism. Those of you who know Ryan understand that he does not listen to the naysayers. He has learned to fight the battles for what is right for him. Ryan won’t listen to those who say he “can not…”
His battles began at an early age. Ryan was born with a black eye from his first fight for life. Then at his three-month check-up, the pediatrician found not one, but two holes in his heart. We followed his medical condition closely in hopes the holes would close on their own. Alas, they did not and he had open-heart surgery at the age of five. One of the gifts of his autism is his ability to remember fine details of events. He still at age 19 talks about the experience like it was yesterday.
Ryan shortly moved on to his next set of battles – for the right to be included in school. Carrying the label of autism too often brings membership to a club that expects people to watch life from the sidelines. School systems, in general, don’t understand the hurt and damage they cause when they segregate people based on disability labels. Ryan understands that he has social limitations, but he has persistently challenged the perceptions of people that might limit his dreams.
I admire and appreciate Ryan’s resilience. He encounters roadblocks but doesn’t give up. He has stayed true to his fight for community inclusion as much as he has followed his dream of travel.
Ryan is interested in meeting people and learning about their lives. He has studied maps of Europe, facts about the countries, and languages. We have booked his first trip to Edinburg this month. He knows wants to see palaces, castles, gardens, and even cemeteries. Ryan wants to share the excitement of the trip with his family and friends. He has a list of people who will receive gifts, photos, postcards, and Facebook updates.
Of course, after deciding to go to Edinburgh, Ryan felt that we are going to be so close that we have to take a train to London for a day. In London he wants to see the London Eye (the giant Ferris wheel), Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, where he hopes to see the Queen.
Ryan -- like the rest of us who dream -- isn’t always practical. To make this adventure happen, however, we need to raise more money for the trip. I believe this adventure will help him see parts of the world he has only dreamed about as well as build new and lasting bonds with this broader community. I will be traveling with Ryan to Scotland and I thought I had it covered until he threw me the London curveball. How much could it be? It’s not that big a country. Well, trains and events will run much more than I planned for.
Many of you know that I have had to really stretch to make this trip a reality. A number of you have already contributed to Ryan having this chance to travel. And to you I am truly grateful.
I am now writing to ask for help in making this Ryan’s first great trip of his lifetime. After a yard sale, selling jewelry, and taking a second job, the trip is still not completely covered. I am a few thousand short and have learned to ask for help. Please contribute if you can to help Ryan realize this dream.
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