04/02/2014 04:56 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2014

April Is Autism Awareness Month -- Light It Up Blue!

Autism Awareness month is here again. Puzzle pieces will be scattered everywhere to remind us of an unknown future for those whose world is somewhat different than most, and on April 2, the world will turn a lighter shade of blue.

According to the CDC, the new statistics for 2013 show that autism is on the rise again. The numbers say that 1 in 68 people have been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. No one really knows the answers to why or what causes the disorder let alone how to treat those most affected in a negative way.

Millions of dollars have been made by some claiming (and selling books) that vaccinations caused autism and that diets and oxygen chambers are a cure, as if that makes any sense all.

I have lived with autism for 17 years. My son was diagnosed at age 2 in 1997. It's been a very long 17 years. My son is aggressive. He is now almost 19. When he finally did learn to speak (a task which took several years of therapy), he ran around the neighborhood pool screaming, "I want to kill the babies." He wasn't kidding. Needless to say we had very few friends who also had children. He hit all of us on a regular basis. He one time stuck a fork in the head of my one of daughter's friends. Luckily it didn't go in that far, but I think you get the point.

We had a period of time, approximately 6 years, in which medication alleviated the aggression completely. Once puberty took hold though, the aggression returned along with my initial diagnosis of breast cancer. If you do the math, my diagnosis was in 2006. I am now metastatic, which means my estimated time on earth is now less than what I envisioned. He takes 6 different medications leaving him comatose most of the time, but after several stints in the hospital, he is doing somewhat better. I'm praying for answers in cannabis.

Our family moved from Tennessee to Florida in 2002. That was a huge mistake for our son. The resources available in Florida are somewhat limited and I say that with kindness. My gratitude to the lawmakers in the State of Florida is somewhat limited too.

I tend to follow the work of people and events over time. Today I wish to thank two organizations that have affected the lives of many who deal with autism on a daily basis in unimaginable ways. All of those ways are for good. Don't misunderstand me. There are many individuals, companies (SAP) and organizations that are doing a tremendous amount of work for the autism community. The ones I cite today are only the ones that are closest to my heart.

The first organization was the one I reached out to when we came to Florida. The Autism Society of Greater Orlando was our first and at that time, only "involvement" with an organization that was actually doing work for the autism community of Central Florida. Donna Lorman was and still is the President of ASGO. We initially moved to Daytona Beach. We have since moved to Orlando and I now know Donna on a personal level rather than just the woman I always viewed as doing so much to help so many. Her commitment over the years has been unending. She is now spending much of her time training law enforcement throughout Florida and soon to hit Georgia.

I've watched Donna Lorman over the last 12 years. She has made ASGO an enormous entity which not only has made a difference in my son's life, but thousands of others as well. She plans a day each year at Sea World and we have been several times to Universal Orlando. She arranges trips to Disney World as well as providing social settings every other week for young children and adults on the autism spectrum. These are just a few things she has done over the years that mean so much to our children. She helps us here at home every day. She is my hero.

The second organization I have watched is Autism Speaks. The ability to take an organization from nothing to a worldwide phenomenon to me is astounding; and that is what Bob and Suzanne Wright have done. Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by the Wrights. There are countless articles about what they do and why they do what they do that I need not repeat them here. Just visit the website or watch the news. "Light It Up Blue" -- I still get chills as I see the monuments and wonders of the world transform. They do this for my son.

Each of these organizations makes enormous contributions to the lives of my family only in different ways and I could not do without either.

For my family, autism sucks. For others, not so much. I envy the "not so much" and hope for the future. Please note that there are millions who have an ASD, are extremely high functioning and lead amazing happy lives. They used to be called Aspies (short for one with Asperger Syndrome). They are the ones I envy the most. My son is not one of them.

The spectrum is a large one ranging from those who spread their feces everywhere, to those who injure themselves to those who build computers. My son is in the middle somewhere and we still need help.

So, for many of us today, Autism Speaks shines a blue light on the world; the Autism Society of Greater Orlando shines a light on me. I am grateful for both.

Please consider making a donation to these and others who serve the autism community. We have a lot of people who are going to inhabit this planet that are and will be on the spectrum so everyone's future will be affected in some way.

The website for Autism Speaks is

For more information about Lisa Masters visit:
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