(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Governor Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson are reminding Missourians April is National Autism Awareness Month. Tuesday, April 2 is specifically designated as World Autism Day. During this month, citizens across the state, the nation, and the world should join to increase the awareness, understanding, and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also known as Autism.
Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The learning, communication, and problem-solving abilities of people with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Those living with autism and their families face a number of challenges, often needing supports and accommodations in their daily lives.
“Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States,” said Governor Parson. “There are no cures today, but early diagnosis and intervention are a child’s best hope for reaching his or her full potential.”
In the State of the State, Governor Parson advocated for $1 million increase to ensure families and parents have access to the right resources and are equipped to deal with the challenges that come with caring for a loved ones with Autism.
Signs of autism begin during early childhood and usually last throughout adulthood. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recent data indicates autism impacts 1 in 58 children, which is a 30 percent increase from the previous estimate in 2012.
Throughout April, there are a number of ways we can work together to increase awareness and acceptance of people with autism and their families including participating in Autism Speaks Wear Blue, Share Blue, and Light It Up Blue campaigns. Everyone is encouraged to wear blue during the month of April, especially on April 2.
“For all of the children and their families who deal with autism on a day-to-day basis, there is no doubt that attention needs to be given to the hurdles they face,” said First Lady Teresa Parson. “As an advocate for special needs children, I am honored to support autism awareness and pray that the understanding and acceptance of this condition will increase as a result.”
“Autism Spectrum Disorder affects more than 70 million people globally—and this number likely includes someone you know,” said Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick. “April may be Autism Awareness Month, but working to increase understanding of those living with autism should be something we all do year round.”
“My son Stephen was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and while it’s been challenging at times, he has been an incredible blessing to our family. Stephen has taught me a deeper sense of compassion and instilled in me the importance of defending and protecting the most vulnerable members of society, something that I’m able to do every single day as Attorney General,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “I’m grateful that Governor Parson and people across the state are recognizing and celebrating the sacrifice and dedication of Missouri families who care for children on the autism spectrum. It’s my hope that Autism Awareness Month will spark renewed faith among Missourians who care or advocate for children on the autism spectrum, lead to more innovative and unique treatments, and remind families that they aren’t alone in this journey.”
Autism Awareness Month is a great time to raise awareness of the disorder, but individuals and families need support and acceptance all year. For more information on autism, visit the Department of Mental Health, Office of Autism Services website.