Driving along Aurora Avenue Monday evening, the Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon was aglow with soft blue lights up top to signal the beginning of April as Autism Awareness Month, an annual campaign promoted by Autism Speaks for the last six years.
According to the Autism Speaks website, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”
Thanks to the Naperville Park District, the new colored lights will shine blue on the Moser Tower at Rotary Hill along the Riverwalk until mid-April. Then they will change to green for Earth Day.
Showing support for autism awareness can be more than bright blue lights at night, however. Wearing anything blue will do as was evidenced during a Pep Rally outside Turning Pointe, a school for autism located at 1500 W. Ogden Ave. in Naperville.
Turning Pointe CEO Walter Johnson donned a blue bow tie for festivities featuring speakers and public officials who got up mighty early on an unseasonably cold spring morning to help advocate for increased autism research and services under sunny blue skies.
Johnson introduced Max Savar, a fitness expert from the YMCA, who led the gathering in a series of exercises to start off the day. Even the wind shield on the microphone that Johnson held so Savar could shout instructions was the appropriate color.
Blue balloon toting guests were reminded that awareness is needed about the invasive growth of autism. During brief remarks, City Councilman Kenn Miller charted the incidence of autism from a new survey which found a 1 in 50 prevalence rate in school-age youngsters, a ten-fold increase during the last 40 years.
According to advocates, this new number does not replace the official government estimate of 1 in 88 American children, but the results suggest that increased autism awareness could help more children get a diagnosis who are affected by the autism spectrum disorder.
Representatives from the Naperville City Council, Illinois State Senate and House, Autism Speaks, WDSRA, and the YMCA joined about 80 friends of Turning Point for the Pep Rally that was covered by ABC News Chicago and NCTV-17. At the end of the rally, 100 blue balloons were released into the clear blue sky.
Though April has been designated as the month to raise awareness, advocacy for autism is essential every day.
For instance, Little Friends will present “The Changing Face of Autism” at 7PM Thurs., April 4, in Meiley-Swallow Hall, located at 31 S. Ellsworth Street on the campus of North Central College.
Then on Sun. June 23, Little Friends again will host Step Up for Autism along the Riverwalk. Register online at: stepupforautism2013.kintera.org.
Watch for upcoming posts golf outings and other fundraising activities in support of autism research, programs, housing, education, etc.
As news of additional events is received, the happenings will be posted or linked to this website. Raise awareness with all the folks coming together to enlighten the world about the spectrum of autism every day of the year.
RELATED POST: Blue will shine to raise awareness for autism in April