Guest Article: Walk Hopes To Shine (Blue) Light On Autism Awareness
By Kathe Scott
The Newaygo County Autism Community (NCAC) will be hosting the 3rd annual Walk for Autism on April 29, 2017 at the Fremont Football Field. Registration is free and starts at 9:00 a.m. The walk will start at 9:30. Pledges are welcome, but not required. The theme will again be Super Heroes, as we give tribute to the heroes of our community, including law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, EMT's, health care providers, teachers, veterans, and active duty service men and women.
The Walk for Autism is a culmination of autism awareness events throughout the month of April. Fremont’s Mayor Rynberg signed a proclamation declaring April as Autism Awareness Month for the city of Fremont, and the city council allowed...
...blue ribbons to be tied to light posts throughout the city as part of the Light It Up Blue campaign. Numerous businesses throughout the county have joined the effort by "going blue". Look for blue lights, blue window decorations, blue clothing, blue hair and nails, all in support of autism awareness.
Throughout the month of April, schools across the county will show their support for autism awareness in numerous ways, including coloring contests, making posters, door decorating, and video making. NCAC also sponsors an Outstanding Teacher Award, given to a teacher who has helped promote understanding and acceptance of autism throughout the school community.
According to the CDC, 1 in 68 school-aged children in the U.S. have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls. Locally, there are approximately 140 children in Newaygo County receiving educational services as a student with ASD.
The ultimate goal of the Newaygo County Autism Community is to spread awareness, increase acceptance, and educate the community in the area of autism. Autism not only impacts the individual person identified, but their entire family, as well as extended families, including church, school, health care, and community activities.
NCAC is working with local law enforcement agencies, emergency medical personnel, and the Gerber Spectrum emergency department to develop and support programs and procedures that will improve the level of response to the needs of our community members with ASD in emergency situations.
In the very near future NCAC will introduce the Newaygo County Safe Swim Academy, a swim program for Newaygo County residents on the autism spectrum. People with autism are often drawn to water; consequently drowning is one of the leading causes of death of individuals with autism. With the prevalence of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers in Newaygo County, teaching water survival skills is imperative.
A Lending Library is a goal of Newaygo County Autism Community. The Lending Library will consist of items that parents and caregivers can check out before purchasing. This will include items to help with fine and gross motor skills, sensory processing, and other needed items.
The Newaygo County Autism Community holds monthly support meetings and family potlucks, which are open to everyone. We provide a safe environment for families to gather. This is a time for families, individuals, caregivers, teachers, and friends to gather and show support for one another. Occasionally, a guest speaker will join us. The meetings occur on the 4th Thursday of each month and are hosted by the Fremont United Methodist Church.
As autism continues to impact more people in many different ways, the Newaygo County Autism Community is committed to providing continued awareness, support, and education to all members of our community. We strive to increase the level of compassion and understanding for all whose lives are impacted by autism.
For more information about the Walk for Autism on April 29 go to www.IwalkforAutsim.com.
For more information about the Newaygo County Autism Community find us on Facebook, or go to newaygocountyautismcommunity.org.
Kathe Scott is a teacher of Newaygo County students with autism at Fremont Middle School, and has been involved with the Newaygo County Autism Community since its inception 4 years ago.