Children and families crowded Polson Park for last year’s inaugural Autism Awareness Walk

Children and families crowded Polson Park for last year’s inaugural Autism Awareness Walk

Park walk rallies for autism awareness

Residents can come out to Polson Park for the Autism Awareness Walk Sunday

A newer event to Vernon is developing with grand strides as it returns for its second year in support of autism awareness.

April is Autism Awareness Month, so in celebration, everyone is urged to wear blue Sunday and come out to Polson Park for the Autism Awareness Walk. There will be lots of food, treats, family fun and music, along with the walk, which goes rain or shine, from 1 to 3 p.m. The walk starts at 1:30, with a 1:15 warm up.

“Every year it’s getting bigger and more people are participating, which is great,” said Rebecca Kerr,  with the North Okanagan Neurological Association.

Kerr works closely with individuals and families through NONA’s autism services program.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological disorder that effects the brain development. The degree to which it effects 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.

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.

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.

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