Florida State students walk for Autism
By Ashia Glover
For the second time in as many years, a cross section of Tallahassee turned out Sunday afternoon for the Walk Now For Autism Speaks at Langford Green on the FSU campus.
The event was staged to bring awareness to a condition that too many still don’t understand, said Mathew Busick, director of the Florida Autism Center.
No two individuals who suffer with autism are the same, he said.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism,” Busick said.
The Florida Autism Center focuses on behavior and therapy, providing a private school for children with autism.
“We are very focused on early intervention,” said Busick. “There is the critical time period to catch kids early.
“It takes a village to raise a child. At the center we take a family approach. We are very big on family involvement, the last thing that we want is for you to come here and just drop your child off.”
As debilitating as the disorder could become, some victims occasionally experience behavioral improvements, said Kelsey Wyatt. She’s seen the change first-hand with two of her childhood friends.
“They’re like little brothers to me,” said Wyatt. “They are now 16 and 18 years old and have jobs. Growing up they were very shy and in a bubble and now they go to a special needs school and that has helped them tremendously to develop their skills.
“We treat them just like anyone else. They may have special circumstances but we are all the same.”
During the event families and friends could visit booths to gain more information about the disorder, have fun while dunking a student into a tank filled with water, enjoy good upbeat music, and even cleanse their palettes with some ice cream.
Many of the volunteers had a similar cause for wanting to be a part of this event. The main reasoning was to assure people that a person with autism is someone you should not be afraid of.
“I just want people to know that, yes these kids have an intellectual disability, but they are no different than you,” said Marlee Sapp, one of the volunteers. “They are people; autism is not contagious. They are no less human than we are.”