April is Autism Awareness Month and several events are taking place throughout the Central Valley to help increase understanding, awareness and also provide resources to families affected by the disorder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but it’s about 4.5 times more common among boys than girls, according to the CDC.
According to CDC, about 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some of the signs and symptoms of autism include: Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors; Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects; Having a lasting, intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts; Making little or inconsistent eye contact; Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said; Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like; Responding in an unusual way when others show anger, distress, or affection.
1 in 68 children in the United States has autism
In the Sacramento area, many events including lectures, parents groups and open house will be taking place at the UC Davis MIND Institute, 2825 50th Street.
▪ On April 12 at 4:30 p.m., psychologist Jane Roberts will discuss how to recognize early signs of anxiety and autism in infants with fragile X syndrome as part of the MIND Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Series. This is a free public lecture.
▪ On April 19 at 5:30 p.m., the MIND Institute faculty member Marjorie Solomon, Community Health Program Supervisor Steve Ruder and Tasha Oswald, will share information on the ACCESS Program and how it can help strengthen social, life coping and planning skills to empower adults with autism to access social, work, educational and community opportunities. This is a free event.
▪ Apoyo de Padres para Padres (Parents Supporting Parents) is a group of Spanish-speaking parents who have children with disabilities, and meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. The group offers emotional support and provides resources to help parents improve communication and resolve conflicts.
▪ Also, the MIND Institute will hold its annual open house just after Autism Awareness Month on May 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event gives the community an opportunity to learn about leading-edge research and outreach activities and to meet and talk with members of the MIND Institute faculty. Behind-the-scenes tours showcasing the Resource Center and clinic will be provided. Reservations are requested.
In the Fresno area, the Fresno Unified School District’s Greenberg Elementary School is holding special events for students with autism and their families throughout April to increase awareness of autism. Events started with an assembly and balloon release earlier this month where students shared facts about autism and released balloons.
Other April Autism activities at Greenberg Elementary School includes:
▪ Special Olympics track and field events on April 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. On April 28 the school will conclude with its fifth annual Autism Awareness Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., with staff serving breakfast to parents and students and celebrating accomplishments.
▪ Fresno State University’s College of Science and Mathematics partnered with Valley Children’s Hospital to present the 2017 Run with the Heroes 5K and Family Walk on April 22, to benefit children with autism. The fee to enter in the 5K run is $40 per runner. The run starts at 8 a.m. and the family walk is at 9 a.m., it costs $30 per participant. Children 12 years old or younger are free. All participants will receive a Valley Children’s cape or finisher T-shirt, in addition to free hotcakes after the event. All proceeds go to the George’s Pass Program, which aims to assist children with autism spectrum disorder.
For more information about autism events in the Sacramento area visit: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/events/index.html
For more information on the Heroes 5K contact: Christine Thibodeaux, College of Science and Mathematics, at firstname.lastname@example.org.