ELIZABETH, NJ – Approximately 250 walkers took a stroll along waterfront this afternoon as participants in the Annual Autism Walk to bring awareness to this developmental disorder.

“I am a mother with children with autism,” said Iliana Chevres, who organized the Walk as founder of the Elizabeth Parent Support Group. “That made me more involved with the community and with the City of Elizabeth to look for more awareness in the community.”

April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the Autism Society, the prevalence of autism in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births and increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, making autism the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation. More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention.

“This is special to heart,” said Elizabeth resident Maria Lorenz. “One of my children has autism. It is important to bring awareness. We hope that people think twice before opening their mouths when they see a child misbehaving and don’t think the parent is negligent. I hope the Walk is beginning to bring awareness for a parent who sees certain behaviors that they get their child help like I did. Early intervention is key to helping children succeed.”