The following excerpt is from an article posted on MLB.com by Bryan Horowitz – “Sea of Blue” on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
NEW YORK — When Harold Ramírez gazes into the crowd at Tropicana Field this Sunday, he’ll encounter a host of fans rocking blue wigs, a giveaway modeled on his own hair. The sea of blue will undoubtedly make for a striking visual, but the real significance is what inspired it.
A couple years ago, Ramírez’s son, Elian, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder — a neurodevelopmental disability characterized by a range of difficulties, including social interaction and communication. Shortly thereafter, Ramírez decided to dye his hair blue, a soothing color associated with autism, to honor his son. And on Sunday, during Autism Awareness Day at the Trop, a sizable contingent of Rays fans will visit their world.
“It’s going to make me feel very excited,” Ramírez said with a grin during a visit to MLB Headquarters on Monday. “It’s good for me, good for my son and good for everybody.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 14, 2023
According to a report from the CDC, one out of every 36 children is autistic. That’s up from 1 in 44 just two years ago, and 1 in 110 in 2006. This increase, in part, reflects a greater understanding of what autism entails. And, in turn, when children and adults are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, they can gain greater access to therapies to help with limited speech and other challenges.
Elian is a perfect example: When he was initially diagnosed at 2 years old, he wasn’t saying a whole lot. (25-30 percent of kids on the spectrum are mostly or completely nonverbal.) Now 6 years old, having enrolled in a school where they teach him both English and Spanish, Elian has made tremendous strides, and his dad couldn’t be happier.
“He surprises me with some new words every day,” Ramírez said proudly. “He’s very smart. It’s unbelievable how smart he is.”
Harold has come a long way, too. When he found out Elian was autistic, it was difficult for him to reconcile because he really didn’t know much about that. But he and his family did their research, developed a plan and quickly began seeing results. This led him to want to help other people learn about their experience, figuring that raising the level of understanding could only help Elian and others like him.
Any time someone has blue hair, it’s going to attract attention. And once word got out about the reason Harold had taken the plunge, plenty of people around the baseball community began to check in with him. That was music to his ears: Harold loves when people reach out to hear about Elian, and about autism in general.
To read the rest of the article and learn more about Ramírez, click this link below!
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