The third annual Autism Awareness Walk gets underway Sunday at Polson Park.

The third annual Autism Awareness Walk gets underway Sunday at Polson Park.

Autism walk connects families with support

The Autism Awareness Walk gets underway Sunday at Polson Park

Greater Vernon is invited to help turn Polson Park into a sea of blue during the upcoming Autism Awareness Walk.

The walk, marking its third year, gets underway Sunday at the Polson Park band shell rain or shine from 1 to 3 p.m. with a warm-up starting at 1:15 p.m.

The event is hosted by the Autism Awareness Committee, consisting of local organizations working with children and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder

“We do this to provide awareness to our community of service providers available to help families that are affected by autism and to bring families together for an afternoon of fun, food, and games,” said Kerry Casperson, one of the event organizers.

The autism committee consists of Stepping Stones Counselling Group, Sky High Professional Group, NONA, Child and Youth with Special Needs and NOYFSS.

“I initiated the walk three years ago as I work with kids on the autism spectrum and wanted a forum for families to get together and have fun and also for families to get a chance to see what service providers are in the community,” said Casperson, who is pleased with the growth of the event.

“The walk grows every year with at least 200 people out last year.”

The event follows National Autism Awareness Day April 2.

April is Autism Awareness Month, so in celebration, everyone is urged to wear blue for the event.

There will be lots of food, treats, family fun and music, along with the walk.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological disorder that affects brain development.

The degree to which it affects the brain varies and is unique to each individual who is diagnosed with autism.

Common challenges may include difficulties in language development, verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors.

The current prevalence of ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is one in 68.

Boys are four times as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ASD.

Due to challenges in communication and differences in brain development, individuals with ASD may experience extreme challenges in having their needs met or communicating to others.

This may come across as frustration in younger children (meltdowns) or may look like being rude in older individuals.

Because autism is a spectrum, the varying strengths and challenges are uniquely intertwined for each individual.

Some individuals with autism can have strengths in the area of visual learning or an interest in a topic that brings their knowledge to almost genius levels, yet they may have challenges in every day areas of life that many people may take for granted (such as caring for their own hygiene, dressing self or preparing meals).

When diagnosed at an early age, there is advanced research to suggest that early intervention may help individuals with ASD  to achieve many gains in the areas of language development, increases in academic areas of weakness and skills to help with independent living as they approach adult life.

If you have concerns about your child talk to your doctor about possible assessment options.