Events Planned in Observance of Autism Awareness Month

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 3, 2014 – Several local and regional events are planned in celebration of Autism Awareness Month in April.

“During the month of April, please help us raise awareness about Autism,” said Connie Hebert, director of the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment. “If you know someone with Autism or a family raising a child with Autism, honor them by showing your support. Thank you for helping raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Autism is a developmental disability that typically involves delays in social skills, language, and behavior.  The Center for Disease Control recently announced that Autism Spectrum Disorder is now believed to affect one in 68 children. Autism affects males more than females, with males diagnosed at a rate four times that of females.  While Autism is not curable, it is definitely manageable with early intervention, Hebert said.

Individuals and their families touched by Autism are invited to Messy Morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 5 at the Show Me Center. Messy Morning includes a Sensory Sensitive Room and activities hosted by the Autism Awareness of Southeast Missouri Committee. The event is free to the public. Come prepared to get messy.

An Autism Rally at the state capitol in Jefferson City, Mo., is planned for April 9. Activities will begin in the Governor’s Office building and move to the capitol building as the morning session ends to encourage interaction with legislators.

Dr. Victoria Moore of the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment will appear as a guest on the KZIM Radio morning show with host Faune Riggin to discuss Autism Spectrum Disorder at 8:40 a.m. on April 18.

Cape West Cine 14 will show its Sensory Saturday Movie at 10 a.m. on April 19. The theater shows Sensory Saturday movies on the third Saturday of every month. On Sensory Saturdays, feature films are shown with more light and less sound than typical for a movie theater to allow individuals who are sensitive to these sensory issues to enjoy the theatre experience.  April’s Sensory Saturday movie will be “Muppets: Most Wanted.”

Southeast Missouri State University’s Autism Assist student organization will offer Autism awareness activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 23 in the University Center.

Easter Seals Midwest will host a presentation by Aaron Likens, an individual diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 20, during two speaking events April 29 in New Madrid, Mo., and April 30 in Cape Girardeau. Likens is an accomplished speaker and author who is committed to “the race for autism awareness and understanding,” advocating for early intervention services, and to helping our community better understand autism. He will speak from 6-8 p.m. April 29 at New Life Ministries in New Madrid and from 6-8 p.m. April 30 at the Cape Girardeau Public Library. Both events are free to the public.

Hebert expressed thanks and recognition to the Southeast Parent Advisory Committee (SE-PAC) who provides funding to both the University Autism Center and Easter Seals Midwest for direct therapy and programming.

Hebert said she also encourages the region to show their support for Autism awareness by donning blue this month. She suggests the following: 

  • Purchase blue light bulbs at a local hardware or department store to install in homes or businesses.
  • Tie blue ribbons around trees and mailboxes or hang on the front door.
  • Tie blue balloons to houses and businesses and to cars at car dealerships
  • Be creative and come up with your own ideas to help color southeast Missouri blue.