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This Richmond family started a talent show 6 years ago to 'bring awareness to the community'

'They don't understand that just because he looks like you he has a disability'
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Posted at 11:59 PM, Apr 02, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond family hosted their annual talent show on World Autism Awareness Day in hopes of raising awareness about the disorder.

Brittany Halbert started the show in honor of her son, Aziz, in 2017. The goal was to raise awareness about the nervous system disorder, especially among children and families in the inner city.

Saturday’s show was held at the Peter Paul Development Center in East Richmond.

On top of several entertaining acts, the show featured families with a loved one living with autism.

"You know kids with disabilities and things like that, they see kids; they see they look normal, but they don't understand that just because he looks like you, he has a disability,” Halbert said. "This event is just really to highlight and bring awareness to the community about people like Aziz.”

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is on the rise, according to CDC data. One in 36 American children are diagnosed with autism. Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed, and people of color experience autism at higher rates, the CDC reports.

The broad range of conditions and presentations of autism gives every individual a unique set of strengths and challenges, experts say. It’s one reason Halbert asked Antonia Saunders and her 20-year-old son Christian to address the crowd.

Christian was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was a toddler and is now attending community college.

“People with autism. I want you to know that y'all can do this. Because if I could do it, y'all can do it because look at me,” Christian said. “You got to believe in your mindset. And all I know is, is that I know you could do it and God knows.”

Halbert said she wants to keep on growing the show in the years to come and hopes to find some sponsors to help. The feedback she continues to get from her friends and community members informs that mission.

Halbert said having kids hear a wide range of stories about ASD is the main point of Aziz’s Talent Show.

“It's really amazing. And I feel like it's bringing a lot of awareness to autism. You can ask anyone that has kids, they understand they know who he is, and they love [Aziz],” Halbert said.

April is World Autism Awareness month, and you can learn more here.

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