Autism 5k sparks awareness


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by underdeveloped social, communicative and behavioral skills. Not much is known about the causes of the disorder, but it is known to present abnormalities in the brain. 

Some signs of Autism are an acclimation to schedules, social disabilities, and fixations on certain objects and activities.

Autism can be difficult for families to manage. Schedules need to be made and resources need to be taken advantage of. Families face challenges, and over time, they learn how to address them.

“I do not see him any different than my other siblings,” the sister of an autistic kindergartner, Alissa H. ‘22 said. “He loves me the same as anyone else his age would.”

Autism is not often discussed, so the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) members organized an autism awareness walk on Oct. 24th at Glen Oak Park.

HOSA is a student organization that participates in community service activities to build social and leadership skills for the future. 

My OHS Community Awareness team is Vishal Vivek, Min-Song Kim and myself. This is our second year competing for HOSA,”  Rachel M. ’22 said.

HOSA knew they wanted to organize an event for the community, so they decided to host a 5k.

“Seventy participants signed up to run or walk at Glen Oak Park,” Mathews said.

The sponsor of HOSA’s awareness walk is an organization called Autism Speaks. 

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. They do this through advocacy and support, increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism, and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions, according to

HOSA saw that Autism Speaks had a large Ohio volunteer base, and thought they were perfect to collaborate with.

We contacted Sheri Weithman, a member on the board of Autism Career. Through Zoom calls we collaborated to come up with this event,” Mathews said.

Not every organization is perfect though.

Although Autism Speaks raises social awareness, the donation proceeds do not reach autistic people and families. Only four percent of the proceeds actually make it to the families. Thirty-two percent goes to prevention research, 39% to ‘awareness’ efforts and 24% help fundraise. The rest is miscellaneous, according to 

Regardless of money, awareness for this disorder has been spread by the awareness walk, and HOSA’s goal is to continue awareness for illnesses and disorders of all kinds.