AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – April is Autism Awareness Month and local special needs organizations share with us what they do to help those throughout the CSRA.
According to the CDC, 1 out of 36 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism, and the month of April helps to spread that awareness.
“It’s really about just raising awareness in the community of what the needs are for individuals with Autism and what resources are available. It gives the community a great opportunity to come together and learn more about your neighbors,” ABLE Kids Director of Outreach and Relations Hannah Boatright said.
ABLE Kids is a service for kids with special needs that started in Augusta, and one of its important programs is Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.
“ABLE Kids provides ABA therapy to children between the ages two and six. And our model is very particular in that it prepares children to go to elementary school when they’re five or six,” Boatright said.
Even though Autism Awareness is highlighted this month, BlueSprig’s Director says it’s something that needs attention year-round.
“Even if it doesn’t affect you, it continues to grow because there’s so many more signs and indicators of a child with Autism, so it helps to just be knowledgeable about it,” Clinical Director at BlueSprig Augusta Amanda LaRoche said.
Both groups have the same goal – to make sure children with autism are able to interact with others.
“Statistics show that the sooner you work with a child – after comparing a two-year-old to an eight-year-old – the effects that a two-year-old are going to have is going to be more impressionable than an eight-year-old. So, it’s really difficult to break those habits,” LaRoche said.
Boatright tells me working proactively is key.
“Often times when kids don’t get that early intervention therapy, and then they start school, they haven’t met many milestones such as potty training or social skills or sitting in a desk to attend to a task.”
People who work with children with Autism and special needs say the best thing anyone can do is to properly educate yourself on how to deal with it.