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      Walking to raise awareness about autism

      Sally White and Carla Shank discuss their experience with their sons' autism.

      Families of children with autism walked in unity Thursday night to raise more awareness about the condition.

      Members of Quincy's Autism Support Group walked from Quincy Medical Group to Washington Park and back.

      April is Autism Awareness month.

      "My son, Brady, was diagnosed with autism, and I support different autism events throughout the area," Carla Shank said.

      Shank and her son were just two of the dozens of people who turned out for Thursday night's Autism Support Group walk. They say events such as this one help provide a support group for families who have a child with autism.

      "It helps families come together and talk about things," she said. "We meet other people with the same difficulties that we have day to day with school and learning and blending in with the community."

      Organizers say the walk also is a communication tool.

      "It's really to give the families and the public awareness about autism," Shank said.

      "I would just like for people to not look at a child with a disability but to look at them as a whole person and not say autistic. They have autism," Shank explained. "The condition doesn't define who they are. They need to look past the label."

      There are a number of other events planned throughout the month of April for Autism Awareness month.

      AMC Theatres in Quincy will present a sensory friendly version of the movie, "The Croods" at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 6.

      There's also a fund raiser in Hannibal on April 25 to benefit the Shane White Autism Medical Alert project.

      Organizers of that fundraiser are in the process of creating an autism medical alert bracelet with GPS in case the child becomes lost.