No April Fool's - Tomorrow Begins Autism Awareness Month

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In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. Three special projects kick off this year’s campaign.

What Does Autism Look Like? The May Institute, a national nonprofit organization that serves people with autism and other special needs is bringing a powerful public awareness campaign to millions of commuters in Massachusetts. More than 1000 informational pieces will be posted on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system, including 125 platform posters in subway and commuter rail stations and 900 educational car cards displayed in subway cars and buses.

Families whose children are highlighted in the campaign and in the May Institute’s Faces and Voices of Autism photo exhibition will be honored during today’s press conference on the effort.

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LoJack Corporation is assisting with the sponsorship of the May Institute’s campaign, as well as launching their own effort. The company that invented the stolen vehicle recovery market more than two decades ago has launched SafetyNetSource to address a top concern of parents of autistic children who wander or “bolt”. They also offer LoJack Safety Net that will enable police and other public safety agencies to search for and rescue people at risk of wandering.

The website, www.safetynetsource.com, offers a variety of valuable resources for caregivers of those with autism or Alzheimer’s disease. Among those are “10 Ways to Help Protect Your Child from the Dangers of Wandering”, “9-1-1 Disability Indicator Form”, “Neighbor Form”, and “First Responders Sheet”.

A new benefit album called “Songs of the Spectrum” will go on sale April 6th. The record features artists such as Jackson Browne, Teddy Geiger, and Dar Williams, some of whom will perform songs at the release concert in New York on April 7th. Songs were written by those with experience in the struggles of caring for a child with autism.

One of the songs featured was written by John O’Neil, an editor at the New York Times. His 14-year-old son was diagnosed at the age of 2 with autism spectrum disorder. He has coined the phrase “falling down the well” to describe his feelings watching his son change from a cheerful toddler into a child who had trouble speaking and playing. The lyrics he wrote was set to music by family friends Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, a husband and wife duo called The Cucumbers.

Autism is a developmental disability that occurs in at least one in every 110 children. It is a neurological disorder that affects the development of the brain, causing difficulty with communication, learning, and social interaction.

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