First-ever Autism Awareness Banquet held April 12

Published 1:55 pm Saturday, April 13, 2024

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“(Tonight) is the kids’ and parents’ night.”

That’s what Autism Awareness Atmore’s Eunice Johnson said during the first ever Autism Awareness Banquet April 12 at The Encore at the Strand.

The banquet was held to honor the children in the community who are on the autism spectrum. According to Autism Speaks’ website, autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social communication skills and repetitive or restricted behaviors or thinking.

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A good crowd turned out for the semiformal event, which included speakers, dinner and door prizes for children who are on the spectrum, and their guardians.

Rachel Patterson Elementary School Teacher Rachel Hadley said the children are special, and they have a gift.

“Thank you for letting us take care of these babies,” Hadley said.

RPES Principal Toya McMillian said the school is in the children business, and while the children on the spectrum are unique and special, all of us are unique and special.

“These children are not the problem,” McMillian said. “We have children we need to focus on, they’re not these children.”

Escambia County School Board President Loumeek White, who works with adults on the spectrum, said one has to have love for these people.

“It takes special people to care for them,” White said. “They push me; they just want to be loved.”

Additionally, the annual Autism Awareness Walk was held Saturday morning.