AKRON -- Parents of autistic children say the biggest misconception about the disorder is that their kids or not intelligent or not normal. That simply is not true.
With one in 88 children being diagnosed, autism impacts more families than you might think.
One local family shares their story of how they are supporting others and how you can do the same.
"Alena is an angel and a devil. She has mood swings on a dime. But we love her," said Alena's Mom, Denise DiFrangia.
When Alena was 2 years old, her behavior caused her mother to start researching autism. Then, she decided to have Alena evaluated.
"And sure enough, what we expected was true," said DiFrangia. "And from that early age, we have attacked it aggressively as we possibly could."
Alena's perception is that her world is different from ours, which affects the entire family.
"What has worked best for us, is for us to look at her world and adjust to it. We get into her mind, or at least try to, and accommodate her and her needs" said DiFrangia.
Now Alena is 9 years old. She has a daily routine, has begun to read and is communicating better. Every family dealing with autism needs a strong support system of caregivers.
And the Autism Society of Greater Akron is there to help.
"It's support for families. It's a resource for families to turn to. They do family friendly events for the children" said Terri McGurk, Alena's aunt.
Alena's family is participating in this year's Akron Autism 5k and Walk. They want to raise awareness and encourage acceptance of autism.
"Come out and help do the walk. Just be there for support. If you can't walk or run, just be there to cheer on the families" said McGurk.
"It is such a fun day and everybody excepts everybody that day. There are no prejudices" said DiFrangia.
And as they walk, the families' inspiration is right along side them.
"Her laughter is infectious. And I just want to pull her out of her world and bring her into ours. I just love her," said McGurk.
The Akron Autism 5K and walk is Saturday June 15 at Lock 3 in downtown Akron.
Here is the schedule:
- Autism Vendor Fair 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- Registration Opens 7:30 a.m.
- Welcome and Runner Line up 8:10 a.m.
- Run Start 8:30 am Walk Start 9 a.m. Summit Academy Steel Band 9:30 a.m.
- Awards Presentation 10 a.m.
- Zobapago Band 10:30 a.m.