Very early in her journey as the mother of a child with autism, Precious Singleton Alexander made a vow to herself to make a difference for families experiencing the same trials and tribulations shared by she and her then 3-year-old son Rio.
Now Alexander has done just that – not only recognized for her efforts, but preparing to host the first annual Autism Awareness and Acceptance Bubbles and Balloon Bash on April 30.
The event, held under the banner of Alexander’s Chosen Ones Foundation, will be free for all to enjoy at the West Bank Bridge Park, from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. The Chosen Ones Foundation’s purpose is to raise public awareness, acceptance, inclusion and increase advocacy efforts concerning Autism Spectrum Disorder in the community. The event is for all ages to attend.
The foundation was recognized last month by the St. Charles Parish Council, who made a proclamation highlighting autism awareness and acceptance.
“It was sometime in January while I was brainstorming on how the The Chosen Ones Foundation would make an impact in the community and then moments later it hit me, ‘was there ever a proclamation for autism awareness here in the parish?’ I remember the next day I reached out to St. Charles Parish Council … there are many individuals in our parish living with autism and to think there was never a proclamation proclaiming April as Autism Awareness Month was just God’s ways of telling me do it, be the one to bring awareness to the community, I chose you. And so I did, and just like that it happened! April is officially Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month and April 2nd is World Autism Day here in St. Charles Parish,” Singleton said.
While this month’s event will mark the first official foundation event, Singleton hosted the event on a smaller scale last year. That event was put together quickly and without much fanfare, but from that test-run Singleton hopes can provide the potential launching pad for a regular event that can make a positive difference for children with autism – as well as their parents.
“With my baby and I, me being new to the diagnosis, I asked myself, ‘How can I advocate for my child and children like him?’” said Alexander. “So let me pray on it. Let me manifest, before I make any plans. I gave it to the universe, I gave it to God, and boom, it hit me.”
She determined she would create an event for children, teens and adults on the spectrum to come together in a fun, safe environment, while parents could likewise unite and network with one another.
“It’s something where we can meet each other, talk, vent, share ideas, whatever anyone needs,” Alexander said. “To come together as one. We’re all learning. I’m still learning. This is to raise more awareness, and here we are today.”
Singleton did not have the Bridge Park last year – she’s putting the extra space to very good use in adding several other activities and avenues for fun. There will be a bounce house, sensory tables, a miniature train ride, a gaming truck, informational booths, entertainment, snowballs and food for all.
“To kickoff the first ever event for The Chosen Ones Foundation, we will be hosting a community event filled with lots of fun for people of all ages and informational tables for parents and caregivers to receive information on resources and services available here in the parish and surrounding areas,” Singleton said. “I imagine the day filled with lots of laughter, fun, love and support for those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A day where families will foster friendships and where a community celebrate differences with unity.”
Singleton said when she learned of Rio’s diagnosis, it didn’t come as a shock.
“At age 2, 2 and a half, I started to see the signs and traits, the characteristics of being on the spectrum,” she said. “I noticed how he was playing with certain toys, not making eye contact … I did the research, put it all in and what do you know, they popped up as the symptoms. So, when the diagnosis came back, it wasn’t a surprise.”
During last year’s event, Singleton said she “didn’t want this to end” referencing the day’s festivities, noting that for families of someone with autism, life is affected each day.
“It’s been quite a ride. And just to know that it’s going to continue until he’s an adult, I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for that long haul,” Alexander said. “It’s been tough, but rewarding. He’s teaching me a lot, teaching me about patience, teaching me to be humble and to have compassion.
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