Pictured: 2017 Walk for Autism, Wilmington, grand marshal Kenny Pierce
February 27, 2017—Newark DE Autism Delaware announced today that the grand marshal for the Wilmington leg of the 2017 statewide Walk for Autism is sixteen-year-old Kenny Pierce. Looking forward to turning 17 soon, Pierce works as a towel boy one day a week at the Town & Country Salon in Newark. A homeschooler, Pierce enjoys reading, especially sci-fi and comic books. And like most teenagers, Pierce also enjoys playing video games.
Diagnosed with autism at the age of four, Pierce has participated in a number of Autism Delaware programs, including the PEERS social skills program, Lego club and game night, the train rides on the Wilmington & Western Railroad, and bowling. “I love seeing Miss Karen Tuohy,” says Pierce of the volunteer bowling facilitator. To give back, the Pierce family created Team Kenny for the 2009 Walk for Autism and continues to raise awareness and funds for Autism Delaware programs and services at the annual event.
“We are so proud of Kenny’s effort and his family’s,” notes Autism Delaware executive director Teresa Avery. “Every year, they walk because families affected by autism need a wide range of services. Autism Delaware works to provide family support, adult employment and health and wellness, clinical services, advocacy at both the state and local levels, and awareness. To meet the growing need, we need to continue to grow. Our goal for the Walk for Autism this year is to raise $250,000.”
About the Walk for Autism
The Walk for Autism is actually a statewide fundraiser that begins with the Lewes leg on April 1 in Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes and continues with the Wilmington leg on April 8 in Fox Point State Park. Organizers hope to attract a total of 3,000 walkers in both Lewes and Wilmington.
A celebration as well as a fundraiser, Autism Delaware’s Walk for Autism is also setting up a fun zone where hands-on crafts will be offered to children. Next door to the fun zone, the newest and latest in products and services especially for individuals and families affected by autism will be on display, and a well-maintained picnic area will invite walk participants to enjoy their box lunches from home or their purchases from food trucks open for business in the park.
For more information, visit autismdelaware.org.
About autism spectrum disorder and Autism Delaware
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that includes impairment in social interaction and social communication. Individuals with ASD also exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior or interest that limit everyday functioning. An intellectual or language impairment is also possible. All these symptoms will first appear in early childhood.
According to the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), any individual with a well-established DSM-4 diagnosis should be given the diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder,” or ASD, for short. (In the DSM-4, the diagnoses included classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified [PDD–NOS]). ASD is categorized by severity on a scale of one to three.
In the Delaware public school system in 1991, 152 students received an educational classification of autism, but for the 2015–16 school year, 1,660 students had this classification. While this number reflects an increase of more than 950 percent, it omits the adults and children who are not currently being served by the school’s special-education system.
Autism Delaware is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit made up of individuals with ASD, their family members, the professionals who serve them, and friends of people with ASD. The agency’s mission is to help people and families affected by ASD. With offices in Newark, Dover, and Lewes, Autism Delaware serves the entire state.
Autism Delaware’s programs and services are supported by state contracts and generous donations from individuals and corporations across Delaware. Fundraising events, like the Walk for Autism, help provide the income needed to make critical programs a reality. For more information on how to help, visit autismdelaware.org.