Robin McCraw is a teacher, so she knows all about inspiring the next generation. What she sees each year at the Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism thrills her: enthusiastic teams of young people from schools such as UNC-Greensboro and High Point University, representing their service clubs and athletic teams.
“They’re learning to be compassionate and to care about people with autism,” McCraw said.
McCraw has a son with autism herself, and she said the support from other runners and walkers and from companies who set up booths at the event is truly appreciated. “It’s really good to see other people who don’t have kids with autism come and participate.”
The Greensboro mom and her family have walked every year in the event, which raises money for the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) as well as awareness. The fifth annual Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism is set for Sept. 28 on the campus of UNC-Greensboro.
McCraw said she “can’t imagine” not supporting ASNC, which she has been involved with since her son was about 2½. At that point, Evan was not diagnosed yet, but his parents thought he probably had autism. Medical issues complicated his diagnosis, and the family was told to wait and see how he developed.
As a young child, Evan had an extensive vocabulary but did not truly communicate with others, his mother said. He mostly quoted books that he had memorized and did not respond to questions or communicate his needs. “It was like the words were just these cool things that were on the page,” she said.
ASNC connected the family to resources, including a parent mentor, McCraw said. “That was really wonderful having someone who had kind of been there.”
As Evan grew, he developed more health problems, and his pediatrician even turned to the Autism Society of North Carolina for medical information about conditions that occur in conjunction with autism. McCraw said ASNC’s years of experience in working with individuals with autism is invaluable.
Evan, who was diagnosed just before he turned 4, is now 16 and a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro. He is taking the occupational course of study and receives modifications because it can take him a long time to complete tasks. He is also in ROTC and has a group of good friends, but “he has a hard time connecting with people in a way that people expect,” his mother said.
Over the years, the Autism Society of North Carolina has been there for Evan and her whole family, McCraw said. They have been part of the local ASNC chapter and made many friends; one group of moms even takes trips together.
“It’s just a wonderful community to be a part of,” she said. The parents can share their struggles and successes, and at events, they get to see how each other’s children have grown. For Evan’s older sister, Hayley, the group was a place to bond with other siblings of children with autism.
ASNC has provided another source of support, McCraw said, with its parent advocates, who are always available to talk through issues or connect families to resources. Evan himself greatly benefitted from attending ASNC’s Camp Royall, which is the largest summer camp program specifically for people on the autism spectrum in the nation.
McCraw said all of these efforts make all the difference for those with autism and their families, and that’s why the Sept. 28 fundraiser is so important. “A lot of these kids and adults have wonderful abilities. They can contribute to society, you just need to give them the right support. My son has gone well beyond what they said he could do when he was 3.”
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The Autism Society of North Carolina will hold its 5th annual Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism at UNC-Greensboro beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. The 5K event will also feature refreshments and vendor space where businesses, service providers, local support resources, and sponsors will be showcased.
Visit http://www.greensbororunwalkforautism.org or call 336-333-0197 to register, join a team, form a team, sponsor, donate, or volunteer. For more information about the Autism Society of North Carolina, visit https://www.autismsociety-nc.org.Tags: 5K, ASNC, autism, autism awareness, autism parent, autism society north carolina, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism spectrum, Greensboro, Grimsley High School, High Point University, North Carolina, UNC-Greensboro