After a couple of years of depression and complacency, a call from a friend asking if his wife could put down his daughter’s name as the reason she was participating in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event in Chicago changed everything.
After hanging up with his friend and feeling humbled, Lou went to his wife to tell her what had happened and a dialogue opened up.
"Why aren't we doing more?" "Why aren't we walking?" "What can we do to help?"
Those were many of the thoughts tossed about in the conversation. The result of that conversation was Lou and his family signing up to participate in the Walk themselves. Lou was familiar with Autism Speaks having utilized their website as a resource for information, so it seemed like a good and safe cause.
The support they received from family and friends in the short amount of time that they had to get ready for the walk was amazing. The impact the event had on Lou was life changing. It was such an emotional experience and so incredibly positive that the need to do more to raise awareness grew.
Friends of Lou had suggested in the past that he publish the notes that he wrote on Facebook on a blog, or submit them to the Huffington Post. Fear of sharing too much, losing privacy, making his feeling public and open to scrutiny kept Lou from taking action, but after participating in the Autism Walk, Lou felt that others like him might take comfort in his thoughts and experiences.
Within a couple of weeks of being up, a Lou’s Land post was shared by Autism Speaks as they featured Autism dads. They response was overwhelming and shut down Lou’s cell phone which was set to receive notifications from the blog.
The support motivated Lou to produce his first vlog, “Fixing” Autism, a silent scream about health insurance discrimination against individuals on the spectrum and the disparity in funding autism research. Filled with stats he found on the Autism Speaks website and set to the Coldplay song “Fix You” the video earned Lou the Speak Out Award from Autism Speaks. Receiving the award at the Law Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, Lou stated that receiving the award was the proudest moment of his life “outside of familial events”.
On April 2nd, 2013, World Autism Awareness Day, Lou released an open letter to his bosses asking them to do the right thing and voluntarily elect to provide meaningful autism benefits to their employees. The post quickly became the most read post ever written by Lou and word spread to his employer. In 2014 Comcast/NBC Universal added ABA therapy to their benefits package.
Lou also writes about larger topics related to autism for The Huffington Post. His article entitled "Autism, Sensitivity and Hip Hop Culture" asking Drake and J. Cole to consider the weight of their words when using the "r-word" and autism as an insult, and the artist's subsequent apology and changing of the lyrics was listed by Autism Speaks as one of the 10 Big Autism News Stories of 2013.
Lou is on the board of Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter as the chair of the Media and Communications Development committee and hopes to use his many contacts in the Chicago media to help raise autism awareness by covering more autism related stories and by keeping them informed of the initiatives and events of Autism Speaks on both the national and regional level.
Lou hopes to continue building an audience and producing autism awareness videos and that he can use his blog and vlogs as a vehicle to speak publicly about autism related issues and getting more fathers actively involved in advocacy.
A married father of three, Lou's oldest daughter Bianca is autistic. She is amazing, beautiful, perfect and has taught Lou more about life, respect and unconditional love than anybody. They have a bond like no other and Lou's only wish for his daughter is that she grows up to be the best Bianca she can be.