April is autism awareness month. It's been recognized in the United States since the seventies, with a goal to encourage folks to use this time to educate themselves on the topic. According to the CDC one in 88 kids is diagnosed with autism.
NewsCenter 16 stopped by two centers in our community to learn more about the disorder and how these learning facilities are helping kids and their families cope with autism. According to the CDC, Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing serious developmental disorder in the US.
Lisa Delprete with Lighthouse Autism Center says, "Parents should know if there are signs if there are things you're seeing, you can do things about it now. With the awareness comes signs and symptoms. Low eye contact, not socializing, repetitive behaviors, flapping. Things like that, things you're maybe not so sure of. I think if we make that awareness a month long, that gives people time to absorb it."
Several facilities in the area are dedicated to helping families and children cope with the prevalence of autism. Dan Ryan is the Director of the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism , "It's our goal to help get kids back into typical settings."
Facilities like the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at LOGAN and the Lighthouse Autism Center provide children with ABA therapy . "ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis, it's an intervention for children with autism that's very one-on-one. We take individual learn units and we teach them very specifically and directly to the child.", says Jessica Wesaw, an ABA Therapist.
According to Dan Ryan, "ABA is focused on the core challenge areas for people with autism. That's the area of communication, the area of social understanding and behaviors that compete with learning."
Leila Allen , explains how the one-on-one work helps children reach their full potential. "It's really using the principals of learning theory to increase positive behaviors and decrease socially inappropriate behaviors…It's not the end, all, be all diagnosis for families. A lot of progress can be made, these kids really can be independent if we can get to them early enough and if they get the services they really need"
For now, there is no medical detection or cure for autism, but those with ties to the disorder are confident awareness will make a difference. "the more understanding the community has, the better it will be for all of us" says, Dan Ryan.