Park Ridge family raising autism awareness

September 7, 2013 (CHICAGO)

When Robert and Sandy Waters daughter Candy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with autism, they had no idea what the future would be. So, they took initiative with some creative ideas.

Ten years ago, Robert and Sandy started an Internet radio show called "The Candy Store."

"It's more to reach out to parents and empower them with knowledge. That is sort of our mission to share our story and share other information," Robert said.

They wrote a song called "Faith, Love and Hope." It has become an anthem for autism awareness.

"We wrote it after she was diagnosed," said Robert. "It was kind of therapeutic with us writing it. We did the lyrics and music together."

Candy turns Sunday. She is non-verbal with behavioral issues but found her niche in painting.

"She likes to draw circles and lines. I like to call it a sun. It could be an eye, but it looks like a sun to me," Sandy said. "The way that she paints [says] that she is happy."

Candy's paintings have sold for $500 to $800. Her art is appears in a book called "Artism: The Art of Autism."

When the Water family thinks about their daughter's future, they want her to be happy.

"I would like to see her become a painter, keep painting, keep loving those. I just want her to be happy and safe," Robert said.

"I think music and art help her a lot. She loves to paint lines and circles and just loves to draw. She just – whatever-- as long as she is happy, I am happy," Sandy said.

Six years ago, the village of Park Ridge recognized September 8, which is Candy's birthday, as Candy Day to increase autism awareness.

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