On World Autism Awareness Day, Siouxland Activists Ask for Communal Understanding

Wednesday, people celebrated World Autism Awareness Day; in Siouxland, advocates used the day and all of April, Autism Awareness Month, to spread a message

Siouxland News Reporter Beairshelle Edmé spoke with leaders who said they want the community to become more understanding and welcoming.

1 in 68 children will be diagnosed with the condition and as it grows more prevalent activist said Siouxland must be more receptive to community needs for the condition.

Advocates said the month also gives communities, like Siouxland, a chance to learn about the daily struggles and triumphs of children and adults on the Autism spectrum.

Globally on Wednesday, many will recognize the condition, but for places like the Pier Center for Autism their work won't end in April.

"We see difficult behaviors for sure and of our lot of our kids that's why they're here because behavior was a problem at home or at school and so what we do is look at what is that behavior problem saying and usually it's that there is a skill that's missing," said Kristen Henry, a behavioral analyst with the Pier Center.

Those behavioral issues could range anywhere from verbal to physical communication, but Henry believes those setbacks shouldn't be a reason to dismiss or ignore a person with Autism.

One mom, Julie Case, agrees; her 19-year-old son has moderate autism.

She believes the community needs to understand the condition because these local children will grow up to be functioning members of Siouxland neighborhoods.

"I have found that in the past when my son he would do something and somebody would look at him funny, I would explain to them that he has autism and explain to 'em, you know, why he does it and it seemed to make it okay then because then they understood; it wasn't they assumed that something was wrong with my kid but they didn't know what was wrong with him. This way if I tell them, if you inform them, they're more open to, um, thinking differently about certain kids," said Case, president of the Siouxland Autism Support Group.

However, she realizes not every person will be comfortable taking on the role of an Autism educator, which is why both Henry and Case are calling on Siouxland to become active in learning about and embracing autism.

Both respective organizations have several upcoming events to support this month-long celebration.

The Siouxland Autism Support Group will have its weekly Thursday meeting at the Northwest Area Education Agency.

April 27th the group will also host its 8th Annual Support Group, Walk and Fun Run at Bacon Creek. For more information visit this website.

Meanwhile, the Pier Center for Autism will be hosting the Derby and Dreams event May 3rd. For more information on their center and this event, visit here.

If you have a story you want to tell or an incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about it. OR