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Upcoming Autism Walk and Resource Fair provides place to get active and get information

Courtesy Autism Society of Southern Arizona
The Autism Society of Southern Arizona has host an Autism Walk and resource Fair for 12 years now and will host its 13th on April 6.

The Autism Society of Southern Arizona will hold its 13th annual Autism Walk and Resource Fair on Saturday, April 6, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Kino Sports Complex. The walk itself will begin at 9 a.m.

About 70 exhibitors will provide information about autism therapy groups, doctors, law and schools to people who want to learn about the autism community. Visitors can learn where to go when they need help and what services are available.

Brie Seward, the associate director of ASSA, said one of the board members had previously found a school for her daughter in the resource fair.

“I think the impact that happens after that day will go on,” she said. “And I think our intention is that families are impacted for better … if they need a therapist, teachers will try and talk about it that day. That’s, you know, something that we aim to do everyday, is to change people’s life for the better, one equipped with information and resources. So, we’re bringing that all to the public in one day.” 

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In addition, many attractions, such as food tracks, raffle, the Center for Neurosciences Brain Bus, the Physics Factory bus, face painting and UA Pom Line, will entertain and educate visitors.

If children experience sensory overload, parents can take them to the Zen Zone created by Milestone Pediatrics. Zen Zone is a calm and dark place where children can relax.

“We really make it a fun day for families,” said Brie Seward, the associate director of ASSA. “And even if you are not affected by autism … you are still welcome to learn more about it.”

Brad Jones participated in the Autism Walk last year for the first time. His 5-year-old son, Alec, was diagnosed with autism. According to Jones, the Autism Walk is beneficial to people affected by autism not just because of the useful information and resources but also because of its welcoming atmosphere.

“[Alec] got to a comfortable place … not being judged,” he said. 

He also said it is nice to be “in touch with other families going through the same thing” and share emotions and experiences. According to Seward, the Autism Walk was initiated by parents.

A board member of ASSA, Ray Frieders, added that the event has been growing, over the last five years.

“It’s still parental,” Frieders said. “[Supporters and volunteers of the event] are different experts, different passions. We have medical people, financial people; we have self-advocates. It’s such a great cross section of people who bring their real-world experience with a way to help get a word out.”

SSA has provided resources and programs for both children and adults and connected people who are involved with autism in the Tucson and Southern Arizona community. It has also guided families or adults who have or have not been diagnosed.

“Because of the way how our system is organized, there are not a lot of services in rural areas,” said Joshua Anbar, an ASSA board member and UA graduate student of public health and family and consumer sciences. 

According to Anbar, people who live in a town hours away have to come to Tucson to find doctors or developed therapies. ASSA helps those people figure out where to go and what to do next. Anbar is also a self-advocate for people diagnosed with autism and has talked about his perspective and journey through events such as the ASSA Speaker Series.

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“It’s nice to have people in different walks of life and journey for this type of things,” Frieders said. “Now we get a perspective of another person on spectrum who is in a unique situation, being in … [a] graduate program.”

Participants can pre-register for the walk at the ASSA website by April 5 at 9 a.m. for $20 or register at the event for $25.

Follow Nagisa Tsukada on Twitter

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