Dimitri Karatsikis knows what a family may feel when a child is diagnosed with autism and now he’s looking to raise more awareness for the disorder.
Karatsikis’ daughter was diagnosed with autism just before her fourth birthday and she recently turned six.
“It was something we weren’t sure of at first,” Karatsikis said. “At the beginning, it wasn’t clear. There were subtle differences that kind of raised flags for early intervention workers that were with her once and a while. It was suggested that we see someone and get on the wait list and that’s what we did.”
Now, Karatsikis is helping to organize a walk for Autism Speaks Canada, which will be the first for the area. It’s scheduled for this Saturday (Sept. 23) at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in Colwood. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with a noon start. After the walk, which will take place on the chip trail, there will be a free barbecue for participants.
Walks have already been hosted in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa this year to raise funds and awareness. Autism Speaks Canada helps promote solutions, across the spectrum and throughout life, for the needs of those with autism as well as their families.
The association recently gave grants to a number of programs in Greater Victoria including $25,000 to the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia’s Lifesaver project, $18,000 to the Canucks Autism Network for outdoor recreation and family events on Vancouver Island, and roughly $119,000 to the University of Victoria for training the dynamics of facial expressions for children.
Karatsikis shared some advice for families that may have a child with autism.
“The earlier you get it looked into, the better, 100 per cent. The biggest thing is the funding you get from the government for programs to help with speech or social skills, the funding is a significant amount until they are six years old,” he said.
For more information on Autism Speaks Canada, go to ascwalk.ca.