April is Autism Awareness Month

Posted April 04, 2011, at 12:10 p.m.

The Autism Society of Maine announced that April is Autism Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Improving the Lives of all Affected by Autism.”

Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors occur in approximately one of every 110 individuals. That’s up from 1 in 10,000 just 15 years ago. Maine’s prevalence rate is the second highest in the nation. Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries.

Autism interferes with the normal development of the brain in areas that control verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction and sensory development. It is often referred to as a spectrum disorder, meaning the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe.

More than 1.5 million people in the United States have some form of autism. It is considered the third most common developmental disability, more common than Down’s Syndrome.

Autism Society of Maine is offering free workshops around the state at these locations: April 7, Spruwink Training Center in Portland; April 12, University of Maine Machais and Waterville Educare; and April 18, Mid-Coast Hospital in Brunswick.

A conference on autism will be held on Thursday, April 28, at Keeley the Katerer in Portland. Guest speaker will be Dr. Paula Kluth on “You’re Going to Love This Kid.” There is a fee for this event.

For more information, contact Autism Society of Maine, 72B Main St., Winthrop ME 04364, at 800-273-5200 or www.asmonline.org.

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