HHH steps out for autism

Published 5:26 pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

Almost 20 volunteers spent a few hours at Hy-Vee last Saturday bringing awareness of the autism programming offered in Austin and by the Hormel Historic Home. Customers were generous in rounding their purchases up, and we raised needed money to support our summer camps.

While being interviewed about why we support autism awareness I thought it was obvious that people should just know about that with which others are struggling. But afterwards, I thought what good does awareness do? Does it really matter if people know about a condition if it doesn’t affect them? Autism didn’t “affect” me until I started working at the HHH. Now I am affected because my eyes have been opened to how prevalent the cases of autism spectrum disorders are, and how everyone will need to know how to address someone on the spectrum at some point. It is not just school teachers who need to be aware; Sunday school teachers, dance instructors, store clerks, and many employers will likely encounter a child or adult with Autism. The more aware they are of the characteristics of these unique individuals the more positive the situation or transaction will be.

While at Hy-Vee many people approached our group to ask about the services we offer. Several had a connection to a person diagnosed with autism which is understandable since it is estimated that nearly 1.5 million people live with an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. Based on studies by the Centers for Disease Control, that number is going to increase rapidly as new research shows that 1 in 68 children have ASD.

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One family affected by ASD is participating in the Stepping Out for Autism Walk on April 26. Holly (Marquardt) Wasko and her husband, Kyle, are Austin natives now living a military life at Fort Lewis, Washington. Holly and Kyle were blessed with twin boys, and in February of 2013 they learned that their 2 ½ year old sons have an autism spectrum disorder. They could choose to support an autism awareness event in their area, but because of their connection to Austin and their belief in local programming, they, and over 40 of their friends and family, have formed a team for the HHH Walk. They have already brought in over $600 in donations and I hear they are not yet done.

Awareness brings enlightenment and moves people to action. To quote Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better. “

 Social Concerns Presented by Spruce Up Austin

Tuesday, April 15, 10 to 11 a.m., free.

Gretchen Ramlo, organization president, will share the accomplishments Spruce Up has had in the last 25 years and what they have planned for the future. Please call to let us know you are coming.

 Stepping Out for Autism Walk

Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Bandshell Community Park

Teams are forming now for the annual fundraising walk to support the summer camps offered by the HHH for area youth affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Visit www.hormelhistorichome.org to print your registration form. Lunch (free will offering accepted) will be offered at 11 a.m. and Koo Koo Kanga Roo will perform at 11:30 a.m.