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WNC Run/Walk is ‘Autism Community Day’

Daniel Landry knows firsthand what a difference employment supports can make.

Landry, a 33-year-old who is on the autism spectrum, faced some challenges at his first jobs. He was capable of doing the work but needed a different way to learn the tasks. “A lot of times the employer doesn’t understand autism or why you’re not picking up on it,” he said.

Daniel Landry works one-on-one with clients as an Autism Support Professional.

Then Landry started receiving services through the Autism Society of North Carolina, and his direct support professional created visual supports to help him learn. “It really helped me tremendously,” he said. The employers “learned that I learned different, but I could still do it. I’m very thankful for the supported employment.”

Now Landry puts his experience to use on the staff at ASNC. As an autism support professional, he works with 3-4 individuals on the spectrum on social skills, communication, and daily living each week.

As a person on the spectrum, Landry said he understands his clients’ perspective and how they would like to be treated. “I understand the anxiety,” he said. “Like when my client is worried about the time or something changing.” He understands how to approach the clients and how they would like to be treated. He also recognizes the value of visual supports and how to creatively customize them to each individual. These are all lessons he shares with other direct support staff. “I can have empathy for both sides.”

As a client and staff member of the Autism Society of North Carolina, Landry looks forward to the WNC Run/Walk for Autism each year. The September event feels like “autism community day,” he said, and is a great chance to “see all your friends and meet new people.”

The 13th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Fletcher. Participants can compete in the 5K race, which is part of the 2018 Asheville Track Club Grand Prix competition series, or just do the recreational 1K run/walk. The family-friendly event will also offer activities for children and a resource fair with dozens of local support resources.

Daniel Landry started a support group called Autistics United in the Asheville area.

In addition to running in the WNC Run/Walk for Autism, Landry has participated in its resource fair to share information for a social group he started six years ago, Autistics United. The Asheville area group offers monthly adult and teen support groups, social outings, and a mentorship program. (For more information about the group, go to http://autisticsunited.wordpress.com/)

Landry said he is a “big fan” of the WNC Run/Walk for Autism and all of the supports and services that it funds. And as someone who has both given and received those supports, he should know!

Step out to improve lives in the 13th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8! The event at Bill Moore Community Park, at 85 Howard Gap Road in Fletcher, will include a 5K race, a recreational 1K run/walk, activities for children, music, and refreshments. Vendor space will showcase local businesses, service providers, support resources, and sponsors. Proceeds will fund local programs of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Register today: www.wncrunwalkforautism.com


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