Autism advocates walk for awareness in "Strides for Autism" - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Autism advocates walk for awareness in "Strides for Autism"

On Saturday, the City of Columbia hosted the "Strides for Autism" walk to raise awareness about the thousands who are dealing with the disorder.

Autism does not have a certain look or behavior, according to Susan Leiby from the SC Autism Society.

"Just like the color spectrum, there are all kinds of variants in between," Leiby said.

Leiby's 8-year-old son, Michael, was diagnosed with Autism 4 years ago when the family moved to South Carolina.

"At his very first pediatrician appointment, the doctor said, 'Something's not right here,'" Leiby said.

Michael is high-functioning and attends school, but there are so many others who cannot speak, go to school, or live on their own.

"He still has speech and language difficulties, behavioral issues, sensory issues, and a lot of social issues," Leiby said.

Every year, the South Carolina Autism Society holds the "Strides for Autism" walk to raise awareness and money.

"Our mission is to enable all individuals with Autism in South Carolina to reach their maximum potential -- whatever that maximum potential may be," Leiby said.

The society's goal is to support children and families dealing with Autism and advocate for better resources and services.

"Dealing with insurance companies and having services to cover his different needs -- working with the educational system and dealing with the day to day behavioral issues that may happen at home or at school," Leiby said.

Despite the challenges, Leiby says her son is worth the struggle and hopes others will join in the walk to make a difference.

"If you don't know someone with Autism, you probably will soon," Leiby said.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

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