Support for each other: Locals hold annual Walk the Walk for Autism

Amanda Jess, The News
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STELLARTON – Connor Wood marched up to his father, Colin, in front of other parents and organizers to show off some of the toys he had won, something he wouldn’t have done a few years ago. 

Connor, an 11-year-old Stellarton boy, was diagnosed with autism when he was three and a half years old.

His father says Connor has come out of his shell, thanks to the Pictou County Children with Autism Association, a grassroots organization in Pictou County that offers help and support to families with autistic children.

“We’ve all gone through it. We all want our children to fit in and succeed,” Colin said about how the parents can relate in the support group.

They held their third annual Walk the Walk for Autism on Saturday, a major fundraiser for the group.

Colin, event coordinator, estimated they had more than 350 people taking part, and raised approximately $40,000.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth over three years. We couldn’t be happier.”

The massive group of red shirts took their message from G.R. Saunders Elementary School throughout the town before returning for an afternoon of carnival games and food.

Part of the idea behind the event is to let parents know there are services available, from support to social activities for their children like swimming and gymnastics.

Colin said when a child is diagnosed, there’s a steep learning curve.

“The group has been a lifeline for me,” he said, adding that his son has overcome many obstacles, including a lack of social and verbal skills, and is high functioning.

Connor has also had problems in the classroom. Because of the group his parents know how to deal with situations appropriately.

The chance to interact with other autistic children is where Colin sees the benefit.

“All the children thrive when they get together. There are no meltdowns,” he said.

As a parent, Colin said the biggest struggle is overcoming the fear of judgment.

Knowing that there are other families going through the same battles is key.

 

amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

 

 

Organizations: Walk for Autism, Pictou County Children, Autism Association G.R. Saunders Elementary School

Geographic location: Stellarton, Pictou County

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