Telluride local joins Autism Walk, 5/15

Telluride local joins Autism Walk, 5/15

IMG_0497 Annie Clark, an Occupational Therapist and popular yoga instructor, heads the Telluride region's Autism and Behavioral Consultation Team (ABCT), designated a Model Autism Team by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Her group 's mission is to develop increasingly comprehensive family support inside and outside the school systems in five districts: Ouray, Ridgway, Norwood, the West End and Telluride.

April was National Autism Month, so Clark was on the run non-stop. And she does not plan to stop any time soon.  On Saturday, May 15, Clark (and her pup Nala) are participating in the 2nd Annual West Slope Autism Walk in Montrose. The event begins at the Johnson Elementary School at 9:30 a.m.

Autism is a complex developmental disability, which typically surfaces within in the first three years of life, affecting a young person's ability to interact with others. Autism is defined as a "spectrum disorder" because associated behaviors show differently in the different individuals.

According to the West Slope Group, since January 1, 2010, over 400,000 young people have been diagnosed, making the rate autism is showing up in our population greater than cancer, AIDS, and diabetes combined.

The good news is autism is treatable. While children do the "outgrow" the disorder like a pair of shoes, studies show early diagnosis and interventions such as those Clark and her team are working on lead to a much improved outcome.

Early warning signs include:

• Lack of or delay in spoken language
• Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerism
• Little or no eye contact
• Lack of interest in peer relationships
• Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
• Persistent fixation on objects or parts of objects

The West Slope Autism Awareness Group is a non-profit 501 (c) (3). For further information call 1-970-765-6187

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