Approximately 400 people networked and found invaluable resources at the Autism Expo on Saturday.
The expo, held in the Beban Park auditorium, featured two-dozen autism-supporting organizations and served as a place for children and adults to come together and share experiences.
Emma Gadsby attended the free event with her son Blake, 7, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age. Gadsby has seen the benefits of some of the organizations first-hand. For the past three years Blake has been going to the Footholds Therapy Centre for behaviour modification.
"He used to walk back and fourth and have extreme anxiety and didn't do anything. I changed his diet when he was four and got him into different therapies, now he speaks," Gadsby said. "He used to have mid-range functioning and now he's high-range functioning and people don't even know that he has autism."
She said the amount of progress she has seen over recent years makes her optimistic for the future.
"He has come leaps and bounds in three years and then I think how much further he can go. It doesn't just stop now, every year we see a difference."
Gadsby said she used the event to share her experiences with other parents who have children with autism.
"That's the number one thing with other parents, they may have tried other things that I haven't and I may have tried things that they haven't," Gadsby said.
"Any information is good information."
Autism Society Central Vancouver Island board member Karen Hovestad, who mothers a youngadult with autism, echoed Gadsby. "Especially if they first discover that somebody in their family has been diagnosed with autism. It's a very isolating condition and people are very much afraid of what it means for the future. It's really important to have events where people feel supported and know that they truly aren't alone," Hovestad said.
For information, visit www.autismsocietycvi.ca/AHinks@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4242
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