;

Annual Family Fun Walk for Autism Draws Hundreds

Lauren (right) and Avery Steinel place a puzzle piece in the basket after completing another lap.

Lauren (right) and Avery Steinel place a puzzle piece in the basket after completing another lap.

Team Matthew (OCATF Photo)
Team Matthew (OCATF Photo)

OSWEGO – It was a perfect day for a walk. And, hundreds of people took advantage of the sunny warm weather to stroll around the Wilber Track to help raise awareess of autism.

Lauren (right) and Avery Steinel place a puzzle piece in the basket after completing another lap.
Lauren (right) and Avery Steinel place a puzzle piece in the basket after completing another lap.

Besides the organized three-mile walk, the 12th annual Family Fun Walk for Autism feature plenty of activities inside the near by gym at Leighton Elementary School on Saturday.

Representatives from several agencies were available to discuss the services they provide, and some great raffles to take a chance on.

Nearly 700 people took part in events inside and outside. The gym was packed with vendors including Oswego County Sheriff’s Department’s Child Safe Program, Arise, Intragrated Counseling Services, balloon art, Air Hop Inflatables, ARC, and several other representatives of county-wide providers of services for folks with developmental delays and disabilities.

The proper footwear for the autism walk
The proper footwear for the autism walk

Autism is often a 24/7 situation. Children with autism often require little sleep. They exhibit a variety of challenges that range from sensory issues to massive speech and language difficulties.

Autism remains “a puzzle.” And so, jig-saw puzzle pieces are used to count laps around the track. Participants receive a bag of 12 pieces. Each piece represents a quarter mile. When the have deposited all the piecs in a collection bucket, they have walked three miles.

The annual event is organized by the Oswego County Autism Task Force.

“We had a really great day today. We made more than $1,500.00. Team Matthew (Matthew Beebe, a student from Granby Elementary) raised $185,” OCATF member Theresa Familo said.

A great day to walk for a great cause
A great day to walk for a great cause

She wasn’t sure on how many people were there, “but it definitely seemed like attendance was down this year. We know there were a lot of other events going on in the area,” she added.

“Perhaps our numbers would be up if the weather wasn’t so good,” quipped a volunteer.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.

Those suffering from autism have impaired social functions, problems with communication, some are non-verbal their whole life. Many autistic children do not play with others, they instead play by themselves, have their own special interests.

Today, 1 in 59 individuals is diagnosed with autism.

Youngsters enjoy a trip down an inflatable slide
Youngsters enjoy a trip down an inflatable slide

The Oswego County Autism Task Force is a 15-member multidisciplinary group who shares the mission of, “Seeking to provide information that enhances the lives of those touched by Autism Spectrum Disorder in our community.”

The group seeks to provide information that enhances the lives of those touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders in our community. It offers a network, which allows families to talk with each other and assist each other, get together and have a good time.

The discussion regarding forming a task force was first introduced at the Oswego County Local Early Intervention Coordinating Council meeting on June 9, 2005.

The idea was to bring parents, schools, the medical community and other partners together to provide support to families, in Oswego County, who had received the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Bubbles were in the air Saturday afternoon
Bubbles were in the air Saturday afternoon

The first meeting of the task force was held on July 14, 2005. It was a brainstorming session to discuss what objectives it would look at developing.

Current officers are: (Oswego County Health Department) – Tammy Thompson – president; (SUNY Oswego) – Linda Stummer – vice president; (Pemberton Associates) – Karen Atutis – secretary; and (Little Lukes) – Michele Smith – treasurer.

For more information about OCATF, go to oswegocountyautism.org or , visit them on Facebook.

Balloon creations were popular among youngsters in the gym
Balloon creations were popular among youngsters in the gym