LAGRANGEVILLE — The Autism Awareness Community Walk & Expo will be held 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 28, rain or shine at Stringham Park in the Town of Lagrange. “This special event, is open to the Hudson Valley community to raise funds for local programs, raise awareness and connect families to the many local services available for people living with autism,” said Allison Fedigan of the Autism Directory Service, Inc. (ADS) and Chairperson of this year’s walk. “Most important, the Walk offers families and the community an opportunity to share a fun-filled day with their autistic loved ones while supporting a vital cause.
“ADS, with the support of Dutchess County’s ThinkDifferently initiative, is following in the footsteps of the ever-present and untiring voice of the Autism community, Karen Kosack,” said Fedigan. She explained that Kosack, who founded the annual Autism Walk and Expo, has taken an advisory role in this year’s event, mentoring the new organizers and helping them create a day to celebrate the community.
The event features a picturesque walk around the grounds of the beautiful Stringham Park. Individual and team walkers are encouraged to pre-register and/or obtain sponsorships. The registration fee is $10 per walker and participants on the Autism Spectrum Disorder are free. Although no donation is too small, it is hoped that the average walker will provide pledges of at least $100. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m., and walk-ins are welcome; the first 500 registrants will receive a free gift.
More than 40 agencies, providers and vendors representing the local autism care community will be available to provide information and answer questions. Refreshments and varied activities are offered for children and their families.
Autism is a pervasive neurological disorder that affects the development of a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others in additional to a spectrum of intellectual and physical impairments. In 2018, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reported that 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism, with 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls. Every 20 minutes a new family receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism is the third most common developmental disorder, and is referred to as a spectrum disorder, meaning the symptoms can occur in any combination and with varying degrees of severity. It is a lifelong developmental disability, affecting people of all races, religions and economic levels. Early signs include serious speech delay, poor eye contact, sensory issues and extreme tantrums for no apparent reason. Causes of Autism are still unknown, but early intervention goes a long way to help identify and begin to correct some of the symptoms. Under proper care, children with autism can learn to play, talk, read, write and do most other activities.
The goal of the Walk is to raise awareness about autism and provide information on vital resources available so that these children may have a better chance at productive and satisfying life. To register, and for additional information about the Walk, activities and sponsors, contact Allison Fedigan at 914-966-9019, email email@example.com or visit www.adshelps.org.