Imagine being stuck in a body that couldn't speak and couldn't move when you wanted to move. Imagine being overlooked or underestimated every day of your life! This is the reality  for many children on the autism spectrum.

In conjunction with the national Make a Difference Day, area non-profit organization, Optimal Rhythms, Inc., will be kicking off Make a Difference: Speak Only With Your Heart Day, beginning 8 a.m. Friday and running until 8 a.m. Saturday.

Generous and caring individuals in our community are being nominated to voluntarily give up their speaking voice for up to 12 hours to bring awareness to the more than 300 non-speaking youth on the autism spectrum in southwestern Indiana.

Similar to the MDA Lock Up, those who are "Silenced" will collect pledges/donations to try to "buy their voice back". Once they meet their funding goal, they can start speaking again and even nominate someone else to be "silenced" for the rest of this 12-hour campaign. Funds raised will purchase iPads, AAC apps, letterboards, and important communication training for area children and families.

Campaign totals will be tallied and presented during the Disability Awareness Fair on Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Old National Place, 1 Main Street.

If you'd like to Make a Difference and help us raise our goal of $10,000 or more for area children with complex communication challenges, visit optimalrhythms.networkforgood.com, call 812-490-9401, email admin@optimalrhythms.org, or visit us on Facebook.

-Casey DePriest
President/CEO, Optimal Rhythms, Inc.