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Light It Up Blue For April's Autism Campaign

By CELESTE NIXON

Tribune Staff Reporter

cnixon@tribunemedia.net

IN order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, Resources and Education for Autism and related Challenges (REACH), a local autism awareness group, is joining countries around the world to recognise April as Autism awareness month and launch its "Light it up Blue" campaign.

According to a statement issued by REACH the campaign, created by Autism speaks, encourages the community to get involved and light up their surroundings in blue for the entire month, whether their place of work, home or public buildings.

It said last year over 2,000 iconic buildings and land marks "lit up blue", including the Empire State Building in New York, Sydney Australia's Opera House, Niagara Falls in Canada, the Hungarian Parliament and Canton Tower in China.

The American National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, states that "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterised by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour."

There is no known cause for autism, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.

Signs of the disorder are usually seen within the first two years of life.

Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restricted behaviour.

The neurological disorder typically lasts throughout a person's life but early diagnosis and intervention can improve the outcome.

REACH president Mario Carey said "autism is diagnosed in one in every 110 children, 70 of them are boys. As this number increases, unfortunately so has the level of ignorance. It is our hope that through your participation, we are able to raise the level of awareness for all Bahamians."

A T-shirt day has been organised for Friday acting both as a fundraiser and to increase awareness. REACH is requesting Bahamians to purchase autism shirts at a cost of $12 or $15 and wear them proudly on that day.

REACH will host a Family Fun Day on April 28 at the Camperdown Stables, which is co-sponsored by the United States Embassy.

This event is the perfect opportunity for the community to personally interact with the young people in "a fun and relaxed atmosphere, bringing smiles to their precious faces," said the statement.

Money raised through these fundraisers will continue to help children and families challenged with Autism, assist with REACH's annual summer camp, while providing continuing parent and teacher education training sessions.

For more event information email autismreachbahamas@yahoo.com or visit the Facebook page facebook.com/R.E.A.C.H.

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