Often symbolized by a puzzle piece, autism and those who fall within the autistic spectrum don't often fit into neat categories.
Ann Helton, M.S., L.P.C, L.A.D.C, DOT SAP and Sable Davis, intern and student attending Southern Nazarene University in Psychology, Family Studies and Geneaology, of Chuska Consulting, a private practice counseling service in Chickasha, has registered a team to participate in the annual Piece Walk for Autism. This event and fundraiser supports families and individuals affected by autism. 100 percent of the Piece Walk funds are used in parent support groups, outreach programs and summer camps.
Helton's granddaughter, 10-year-old Gracie, kicked off the team's fundraiser with a $1 donation.
One out of 88 children are affected by autism, Helton said. Helton and Davis both have experience in counseling autistic clients and their caregivers.
Much about autism, Helton said, is still understood, especially related to social and intellectual capacity.
"There is a misconception that if a child can shake your hand, they don't have autism," Helton said.
Last November, Helton and Davis attended the Oklahoma Statewide Autism Conference where Dr. Temple Grandin, PhD, author and professor of animal science at Colorado State University was the keynote speaker.
Helton and Davis said that, for them, going to see Grandin speak was more exciting than seeing a celebrity.
Grandin was responsible for coming up with a method to herd cattle for slaughter that is less stressful for the cattle. The method used cattle's tendency to mill rather than walk in a straight line. Grandin was born in the 1940s and raised when autism was less understood. Grandin's parents raised her with the expectation that she would do what non-autistic kids did.
Those with autism face a plethora of challenges within the social and at school.