From left, Austin, David, Crystal and Ethan Floyd of Kirkland are preparing to participate in the Autism WAAAlk. Contributed photo

Kirkland family prepares for Autism WAAAlk

The Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy (WAAA) is preparing for its annual WAAAlk for Autism, a fundraiser with proceeds going to support improved insurance access and effective services in schools and communities for kids with autism and developmental disabilities.

The event starts at 10 a.m. April 2 at Marina Park in Kirkland and includes family-friendly activities and a resource fair in addition to the walk, which begins at 11 a.m.

One of the local families participating is the Floyds. Their son, Ethan, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Now 11, Ethan is in the fifth grade at Rose Hill Elementary School.

“I was patient (before), but I’m way more patient than I ever imagined I would be,” Ethan’s mom, Crystal, said of the experience of having a child with autism. “(But) I wouldn’t change it.”

She said the family has been involved with various advocacy events over the last nine years, and Crystal works as a paraeducator in the Lake Washington School District and is the special needs chair for the PTA, all in effort to assist students and families affected by autism and other developmental disabilities in finding resources. She and her husband, David, also run a Lego Club through My Village NW (formerly Northwest Special Families).

“It’s a quiet, non-stressful environment,” she said of the latter.

Crystal said advocacy is a key part of reducing the stigma around autism and events such as the upcoming walk are key.

“(Having autism) doesn’t mean that they’re any different from anyone else,” she said. “It doesn’t make you any less of a human being.”

Their team for the WAAAlk for Autism is named “Incredible Ethan” for a couple of reasons. When Ethan was a newborn, he had to wear goggles to protect his eyesight. Eyeballs were drawn on the goggles that made him look like a superhero. Another reason is that for his first Halloween, Ethan dressed as Jack Jack, the baby from “The Incredibles.”

The Floyds’ fundraising page for the walk can be found online at crowdrise.com/crystalfloyd-WAAAlkForAutism2017. More information about the WAAAlk for Autism can be found online at washingtonautismadvocacy.org/updates/waaalkforautism.