Home > Science, Uncategorized > Why Autism Became My Career … A Love Story

Why Autism Became My Career … A Love Story

 Posted by AGRE Senior Recruitment Research Manager Tiffany Torigoe

In 2003, I moved to California from my native Hawaii. I’d just graduated from college, and I immediately accepted a job with Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) with one goal in mind: Start building my career in research!

I didn’t know that this job would become so much more.

Autism quickly became my passion. As I learned more about the complexities of autism, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of affected families. My interactions with AGRE parents and grandparents have been amazing. They have remarkable stories about their children and how each is wonderfully unique.

At the same time, I find it a great challenge to address some of their greatest concerns. I understand their urgent need for answers. But as someone trained in science, I also know that real answers sometimes take years to deliver. I remind our parents to never give up hope.

One of my most memorable interactions occurred at a Defeat Autism Now (DAN) conference several years ago. Autism Speaks had just started to become a prominent player within the autism community, and there was still apprehension about us. Unfortunately, I was not well equipped to answer some of the challenging political questions people asked me that day! I felt like a moving target and was left confused because I had thought we were all working towards the same goal: helping people with autism!

Just as I was packing up for the day, a man came over to the Autism Speaks table to talk with me. “I’ve been meaning to come over here all day,” he said. “I just want to thank you for being here. It means so much to us that you’re here to support us. Thank you.” To this day, whenever I feel lost in the politics and paperwork, I remember that moment and am reminded by why I’m here at AGRE.

Ultimately, I think the future of autism research lies in collaboration with scientists and families around the world. So it is very exciting to see AGRE’s mission begin to expand outside of North America. We know that autism is a global issue, and I think diversity is the glue that autism research needs to put all the pieces together.

In closing I want to thank all our supporters – those who Walk, those who participate in research, and everyone who cares about our mission to improve the lives of all who struggle with autism. Thank you so much. I love being part of this community.

Follow the hyperlinks to learn more about AGRE and current opportunities for participating in autism research. You can also explore the studies we’re funding using our grant search.

  1. February 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Another HI’an! Thanks for the post and from all of us with autistic kids, THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO! My twins have autism (we share their experiences on itsawunderfullife.wordpress.com) and I can’t express enough my appreciation for the great individuals that work with my kids and support my family ~ Mahalo!

  2. February 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    autism enriches many lives too; it isn’t a plague you can ‘defeat’ – it gives some lucky people unique gifts too

  3. Sarah Canada
    February 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    What do you think of DAN, now? What do you say to parents about it? Thank you.

  4. Roxanna Carcamo
    February 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Hi, my name is Roxanna Carcamo and I am a full time mother of 4 girls with a full time job and a student seeking a BA in social work. Although I am a very busy person I would like to learn more about Autism and be involve helping people. What can I do to be involve in helping families? Please contact me via email: roxannacarcamo@hotmail.com

    Roxanna Carcamo

  5. Andrea
    February 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    As a HI native, I was wondering if you can tell me about resources for Autism in Hawaii. My husband and I have considered relocating to Maui but our youngest (now almost 6) has high functioning autism, PDD. She is mainstreamed in a kindergarten classroom but requires aide and extra therapy. It appears that most resources are in Oahu.
    please contact me by e-mail (andixmae@hotmail.com)

  6. February 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Tiffany,
    I read your article and exploring the opportunities in research re: pdd/aspergers. I am an RN/Case manager involved in documetation review and education. My son is 14 and was diagnosed with high functioning asperger’s las year. I found out he can’t participate in studies d/t his braces at the Washington University research center in our home town of St. Louis, Mo. I have become a huge advocate for theses individuals and am very interested in a job relating to research in this field.. Any suggestions on where to start? Please contact me by email(rosaryfan65@yahoo.com). Thanks for your dedication!
    Suzie Megown

  7. zakdon
    February 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    im wanting to do some type of voluntary work in the area of autism, Not sure what, may be a support for the parents in some way. I love the kids and can get lost in their world What areas in australia can i get involved in

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