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The Autism Project and the ASD community in the news!

A walk of his own: Young man organizes his own ‘Imagine Walk’ for autism

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of people will gather at Goddard Park on Sunday to support the Autism Project's Imagine Walk.

It’s an exciting event but can be overwhelming for people with sensory issues, including Alex Amedeo who has found another way to support the organization.

“There are so many different ways to celebrate those we love,” his mother Cristina said.

When Alex was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old, he was nonverbal, and then he started with the Autism Project.

“By the time he was there for a month, he wasn’t crying anymore,” she continued. “He started finding friends and he started really finding himself and he started having wishes, hopes and dreams, which he really didn’t before.”

Now at 23 years old, Alex let his family know that his sensory issues make it really difficult to attend the walk. He and his family used to go every year for years, but he felt uncomfortable.

“He was very emotional getting there and most of the time he would spend most of his time hiding in the comfort tent or he would be hiding in an RV for a program called 211. He wouldn’t come out,” Cristina said.

The walk celebrates what makes each person with autism unique and special, so Cristina thought, why not celebrate Alex in a way he loved?

In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the in-person walk, the Amedeos walked around their Gaspee Point neighborhood in Warwick. In 2021, a few more friends joined.

“Really, it became a family and friend affair,” Cristina said.

Alex saw people were donating and got excited to write his first check to the Autism Project.

“In 2022 and 2023 there was a walk with the Autism Project, but Alex found his voice and told us, ‘I want my walk,’ so he asked to continue having his own walk because he’s in charge here, it’s people that he knows,” Cristina continued.

On Saturday, the fourth year of Alex’s walk will include about 80 to 100 people.

“I encourage people who have people that they’re caring for with sensory issues to do their own way of celebrating them,” Cristina said.

12 News anchor Kait Walsh will emcee Sunday’s event, which will benefit programs servicing the Autism Spectrum Disorder community.