For one full minute, the sky over Woodbridge Elementary School was filled with shiny, iridescent bubbles. Students and school staff were participating in Bubbles 4 Autism, an event to raise awareness about children with autism and try to break a world record.
Dominic Knight, 10, had a big smile on his face when he saw nearly 500 of his classmates and teachers sending bubbles into the overcast sky.
“I love it,” he said. “It makes me so happy.”
Knight lives with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and a focus on repetitive patterns. For him, these bubbles represent hope and awareness of what he deals with every day.
Knight and his mother, Liz Knight, set up the event for Woodbridge.
The 10-year-old gave a speech just before the event to explain to his classmates what autism is, and how he deals with it.
“Sometimes I have trouble keeping cool,” said Dominic Knight, who squeezes a stress ball when he feels tense or overwhelmed. “But this is just a thing I was born with. My brain is wired differently.”
Woodbridge Elementary was not alone. Hundreds of schools across the nation blew bubbles at precisely the same moment. Faces 4 Autism started the project nine years ago in New Jersey.
When the participants are all tallied up at the end of the day, Bubbles 4 Autism just might set a world record.
The current world record for the most people blowing bubbles simultaneously in multiple locations is held by Flair Plc and Gazillion Bubbles. They organized 34,529 people in 198 venues in the United Kingdom to blow bubbles for one minute on July 3, 2007.
For Liz Knight, it is not about the record. It is about teaching people that her son is more like everyone else than he is different.
“One in 110 children will be diagnosed with some form of autism,” said Liz Knight. “This generation is going to grow up knowing what this is, so we need to promote more understanding.”