ELKHART — Powder blue balloons tied to the rails along the RiverWalk in Elkhart this weekend acted as a visual reminder to passers-by about the many people living with autism in Elkhart County.
Dozens of parents and their children gathered Saturday, April 27, at the fourth annual Light the Way for Autism Awareness. The program was hosted by ADEC, a nonprofit group that provides programs for adults and children with cognitive and developmental disabilities in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.
“April is Autism Awareness Month, so this is just a way to bring people together who know others who are on the autism spectrum or who have family members who are on the spectrum,” said Michelle McGuin, ADEC’s director of family services.
Melanie Johnson, an Elkhart mother, brought her children to Saturday’s event. Both of her sons, Duncan and Logan, have autism.
“It’s important for us to acknowledge and celebrate their uniqueness,” Johnson said. “This is a nice way to come together with other people who want to do the same. I chat with a bunch of these moms on Facebook, but our kids have so many challenges that we don’t always get out and meet each other and have playdates like normal moms.”
Johnson said she would like to see more local events throughout the year to bring attention to autism.
“This is great, and I hope it grows,” she said. “More support for parents and families would be great.”