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April is Autism Awareness Month

Posted April 01, 2013, at 11:34 a.m.

April is Autism Awareness Month

At Penquis Autism Community Services, April means spreading the word about Autism.

April is Autism Awareness month, a time to get the word out about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by challenges with social interactions. Children with ASD tend to struggle with reading social cues, recognizing non-verbal language, and making and maintaining friendships. It is known as the “Puzzling Diagnosis,” as each child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can have differing strengths and challenges. Some children with an ASD have limited verbal communication abilities and some struggle with showing affection. Some children with an ASD struggle with academics, while others have a high IQ.

In 2009, the prevalence of Autism was 1 out of 110 children; in 2012 the CDC reported an increase to 1 out of 88. Autism is 5 times more likely to be diagnosed in boys than in girls. The diagnosis occurs in all socioeconomic classes, all cultures, and all races. There is also no known cause or cure. The best known intervention is early diagnosis and early intervention services, such as behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech and language therapy.

As the prevalence of Autism has continued to rise over the years, it is more important now than ever to spread the word about Autism. Across the country and our state, awareness raising activities are planned to provide support and education about Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“In recognition of Autism Awareness Month there will be many events and activities taking place in our community, throughout the state of Maine, and all across the United States,” said Heather Wheaton, Division Manager, Penquis Autism Community Services.

On April 2nd, Penquis will recognize “World Autism Awareness Day” and take part in the “Light it up Blue” campaign. Around the world iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges, stores, homes and communities will be illuminated in blue light. “At the Penquis office on Harlow Street in Bangor, a blue light will be displayed in the lobby as we participate in “Light it up Blue,” said Wheaton.

April 3rd is “Step Up! For Autism”, rally at the State House Hall of Flags from 9am to noon. For more information contact the Maine Autism Alliance at www.maineautism.org.

April 7th is “Autism Awareness Portland Sea Dogs.” Autism families will be able to enter the game early to avoid the over stimulating crowd and have a visit with Slugger. The Portland Room will be “Sensory Friendly.” For more information, please contact EmbracingTheWorldofAutism@gmail.com

April 20th is the 3rd Annual “Autism Awareness Night at the Portland Pirates,” to benefit the Southern Maine Autism Conference. (Portland Pirates vs. Connecticut Whales). For more information, please visit www.asmonline.org.

On April 28th, the Autism Society of Maine will hold its 11th Annual Walk for Autism in Bangor, Biddeford, Farmington, and Presque Isle. For more information, please visit www.asmonline.org.

Penquis will be participating in many of these events, providing information about Autism Spectrum Disorders and the services we provide. Autism Community Services primarily provides case management to children birth to 21 years of age who are diagnosed with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS. Services are provided in both Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties including case management, support, information, and resources. Case Managers attend meetings with families, assist with making referrals, and help with identifying and accessing resources.

Penquis Autism Community Services also facilitates a Monthly Support Group, maintains a lending library, provides community outreach and trainings, and periodically offers Full Spectrum Fun events for families.

If you would like any more information about Autism Spectrum Disorders or our services, please feel free to contact us at 973-3500.

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