Families affected by autism celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

<p>Balloon Release</p>

Balloon Release

People across America are celebrating the strength of those affected by autism today as part of World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism experts say it's important to recognize those affected by autism because dealing with the developmental disorder can be a significant challenge.

This afternoon, dozens of families affected by autism released blue balloons into the sky outside the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.

City leaders also released several balloons representing the myths of autism that they want to dispel.

They say autism is not a behavioral problem, and not all cases are the same.

We spoke with an 18 year-old diagnosed with autism who read the city's proclamation declaring today World Autism Awareness Day.

He says autism should not be seen as a wall, but as a challenge you can beat.

"I feel like I might be sending a message that your kids can overcome this. This is not a death sentence. This is a challenge, but it is a challenge that you can beat" said Zane Carter, diagnosed with autism.

"There's a lot of obstacles that kind of go along with having an autism spectrum disorder, both on the family and on the individual, but there's a lot of great things as well. And the courage, the strength and the resilience to be be able to deal with some of those obstacles really needs to be celebrated" said Christine Lindgren, Responding to Autism Center.

Carter says with support from his family, he has been able to take regular classes in school, he's even taking an advanced math class, and is designing video games.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

The Responding to Autism Center is holding a variety of events throughout the month to bring families together.

To see a list of the events, click here.

The Responding to Autism Center serves about 700 families in the Tri-Cities.

It is estimated that one in 50 school age children have some form of autism.