Medical Leader | Photos by TEDDY PAYNTER

LOVE NEEDS NO WORDS! Phelps students host first-ever Walk for Autism

Abigail Gibson

PHELPS — Phelps Elementary School (PES) students packed the gymnasium to take part in the first-ever Autism Community Walk on March 31.


Autism Awareness Month is observed throughout the month of April and marks an important time for individuals, families and communities to honor and unite for many reasons.


“Today we’re celebrating all kids,” Principal Angie Lester said as she welcomed all students, staff and guests to the event.


Registered Nurse Angel Lester shared a personal story and experience with all attendees about her son having autism.


“This day is very emotional and personal for me,” she said. Lester talked about the different levels of autism and mentioned successful individuals and celebrities with autism.


Autism or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.


There is not one autism but many types, caused by a combination of genetic, biologic and environmental factors. These influences appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism.


There are three different types of autism, autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.


Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but are almost five times more common among boys than girls. This includes one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism’s prevalence as one in 68 children in the United States.


Signs usually show before the age of three, tend to appear between ages two and three and last throughout a person’s life – although symptoms may improve over time. In some cases, children with autism may show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not show until 24 months or later and stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had.


The morning included a number of fun activities, including a dance party, which all students took part in. Awards were presented to students and classrooms for their door and wall decorating.






•About one percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder.


•More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.


•Autism services for U.S. citizens cost $236 - $262 billion annually.


•Thirty-five percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after high school.


•It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism.


•Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.


•Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.


•There is no medical detection or cure for autism.


•About one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.