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Walk makes strides for autism awareness and acceptance in Vernon

Annual event April 21 at Polson Park
Attendees walk with balloons during the annual Autism Acceptance and Awareness Walk in 2023. (Bowen Assman/Morning Star)

The incidence of autism spectrum disorder has reached alarming proportions and continues to grow, according to Autism Canada.

One in 66 children and youth are currently diagnosed in Canada, meaning many of us know someone with the complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts brain development.

For those parents, caregivers, friends and teachers supporting someone with autism, and those wanting to learn more, the annual Vernon Autism Walk is set for Sunday, April 21 at 1 p.m. in Polson Park.

The event includes face painting, hotdogs (by cash donation), 50/50 draw, Floppy Shots, Bubble Wonders, Kiki the Eco Elf and more fun plus draws for a chance to go to summer camp.

The Autism Walk committee is a non-profit group of volunteers, including Jane Minhas, a social worker for children and youth with support needs.

“It is an amazing opportunity for our community to come together to create awareness and acceptance around autism,” said Minhas, with the ministry for children and family development.

According to Autism Canada, research has found Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age two, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.

However, many children do not receive a diagnosis until they are much older. This delay means children with an ASD might not get the help they need.

“The earlier an ASD is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin,” Autism Canada reports.

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