By Michael Christianson
Dryden held it’s second annual ‘Walk with me for Autism Awareness’ on Saturday following the success of last year’s inaugural walk.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
This year’s walk saw beautiful weather and a strong turn out from the community including the Dryden GM Ice Dogs. The Kiwanis Club served pancakes and there were games and face painting for the kids in attendance to enjoy.
Elaine Lavoie is a district representative for Autism Ontario and she was pleased to see so many people from the community come out.
“The reason that we’re having the walk is to promote awareness in the community because there are a lot of individuals with autism in the community; it’s a very large spectrum,” said Lavoie. “Many people are touched in some way, either it’s a family member or it could be a co-worker, it could be a friend of a friend’s child. So, just to be aware people with autism often have difficulty with social interaction, with communication and also may have some bizarre habits and behaviors some people might not find normal; autism is viewed more as an invisible disability. So often if you see an individual with autism you may not know that they are autistic.”
Lavoie encouraged a message of compassion, being sensitive to the struggles both children and parents have, when interacting with those with autism.