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Hundreds Help Raise Funds, Awareness Of Autism

A group of Mexico girls' soccer was the first on the track for Saturday's autism event.

A group of Mexico girls' soccer was the first on the track for Saturday's autism event.

OSWEGO, NY – The annual “Walk for Autism” drew approximately 250 people to Leighton Elementary School and the nearby Wilber Field on Saturday afternoon.

A group of Mexico girls' soccer was the first on the track for Saturday's autism event.
A group of Mexico girls’ soccer was the first on the track for Saturday’s autism event.

Dozens of walkers took part in the annual fun walk to benefit the Oswego County Autism Task Force.

“The number (of walkers) was down from past years. That has to do with the bad weather. But we can’t control that,” said OCATF president Theresa Familo. “The participants were just as dedicated as ever.”

Besides acting as a fundraiser, the event, sponsored by the task force, also focused attention on the plight of people affected by autism in Oswego County, Familo added.

The event raised close to $1,000 so far this year.

Logen Collins
Logen Collins

In the past, jig-saw puzzle pieces were used, with four pieces representing one mile. Eight pieces equaled two miles and 12 pieces meant the walker had completed the three-mile event. The puzzle pieces weren’t used this year; a few participants questioned their absence.

The puzzle pieces are symbolic for Autism, explained Tammy Thompson, the director of programs for children with special needs for Oswego County (and vice president of the task force).

“It’s because Autism is such a puzzle right now. It’s not a specific thing – it’s the Autism spectrum. So, we’re counting laps with our puzzle pieces,” she said.

Logen Collins wore a shirt that summed up the task force’s mission.

“I’m Logen. Don’t judge me by my behavior. You may miss something beautiful.”

A youngster waits for his balloon creature to be completed.
A youngster waits for his balloon creature to be completed.

At any given time, around 50 to 60 people, young and old, were walking around the track braving the pesky showers.

Inside the gym, another 100 or more took part in the various activities and vistited the informational booths.

Vendors included: Oswego County Sheriff’s Department’s Child Safe Program, Arise, Intragrated Counseling Services, Pemberton Associates, balloon art, Air Hop Inflatables, Elm Crest Behavorial Resources, ARC, Oswego County Opportunities and many other representatives of county-wide providers of services for folks with developmental delays and disabilities.

“Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Family Fun Walk for Autism! It was a little chilly and we had a few sprinkles, but that didn’t keep anyone from having a great time!” Familo said. “It was another amazing event and I am completely honored to be a part of such a wonderful group!”

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

Noah Elkin has fun at the bubbles booth outside.
Noah Elkin has fun at the bubbles booth outside.

People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people.

“ASDs are ‘spectrum disorders.’ That means ASDs affect each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are and the exact nature of the symptoms,” Thompson explained.

The Mexico Elementary School team was recognized for having raised the most funds and Anne Derr was cited as the individual who raised the most.

Alexis Pinczes and Mackenzie Chapman of Liverpool (part of Team Alex) earned the top prize for their banner.

Alexis Pinczes (second from left) and Mackenzie Chapman (second from right) pose with their winning banner. They are flanke By Theresa Familo, left, and Tammy Thompson, right.
Alexis Pinczes (second from left) and Mackenzie Chapman (second from right) pose with their winning banner. They are flanke By Theresa Familo, left, and Tammy Thompson, right.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with Autism and almost 1 in 54 boys.

ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later.

Medical professional say that well planned, structured teaching of specific skills is important. The different types of treatment can generally be broken down into the following:

Behavior and Communication Approaches

Dietary Approaches

Medication

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The key is early identification of ASD.

There are many services available to Oswego County residents.

For children from birth to 3 years of age, the Early Intervention Program can help a family through the process of diagnosis and treatment.

Inside the gym, parents could get information about autism services while the children could enjoy things like the inflatable slide.
Inside the gym, parents could get information about autism services while the children could enjoy things like the inflatable slide.

The Early Intervention Program offers a variety of services included, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupation Therapy, Special Instruction and other home and community based services that help both the child and family.

As a child approaches the age of 3, the Early Intervention Program will help the family through the transition to the preschool special education program that is available through your local school district.

The preschool special education program focus how the child’s developmental delay or disability affects them educationally and begins to prepare the child for school aged services.

The key to any effective program is communication between parents and the providers or educators. Many providers of these services had tables at Saturday’s event and distributed information to the large crowd inside the gym.

The sixth annual Brianna Bowl is planned for for May 17.

All the proceeds go directly to the Oswego County Autism Task Force.

For more information, contact Bob Cahill at 315-216-6374 or [email protected]

OCATF is a 15-member task force that seeks to enhance the lives of those touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The idea for the Oswego County Autism Task was born out of the growing number of children being diagnosed with Autism in the county and the need for more evaluation slots as well as the need for quality service.

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 of a task force was to bring parents, schools, the medical community and other community partners together to provide support to families, in Oswego County, who have received the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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

For more information about OCATF, go to oswegocountyautism.org or call 349-3510.