Guest Article: Community Steps Up To Raise Awareness About Autism
By Carrie Miller-TerVeer, co-founder of Newaygo County Autism Community
Mental health and wellness are critical to the overall wellbeing of our community.
Here in Newaygo County, we are identifying and providing resources that can help adults and kids who are living with autism.
As a co-founder and board member of Newaygo County Autism Community, I see firsthand what families go through when a loved one has autism. We also understand what it will take to support these families. Though the challenge is great for these families and for our community, we are taking action together to...
...make a difference and we invite everyone in Newaygo County to join this important commitment in observance of National Autism Awareness Month.
Understanding autism is an important first step.
People with autism, or autism spectrum disorder, struggle with skills and behaviors many of us take for granted. They display repetitive behaviors. They struggle with speech and nonverbal communication. To many people who have not been exposed to autism, behaviors associated with the disorder can be jarring – and often heartbreaking. I see them almost every day: The teen who curls into a ball because of exposure to harsh light, the young children who scream uncontrollably because their fingers crave something soft to touch.
Autism is something we see more and more of these days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder. One-third of people with autism remain nonverbal throughout their lives, and another third have an intellectual disability.
Yet, despite the prevalence of autism in our society, the disorder remains a mystery to many people.
Here in Newaygo County, we’re doing something about that.
The Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Fremont Recreational Authority have been vital resources for raising awareness, education and new ideas. Newaygo County Emergency Services has helped connect autism advocates with a host of countywide resources. Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial now provides therapeutic items designed to help people with autism, such as weighted blankets, fidgets and other sensory items that can sooth patients, while increasing awareness among emergency staff to better respond to people with autism. These are just a few of so many community partners who are stepping up.
On April 29, we’ll be coming together for Walk for Autism. This 1-mile walk that begins at Fremont High School’s football field at 9:30 a.m. will help raise awareness and acceptance of autism. Our neighbors, colleagues and family will be walking, and we invite everyone in our community to join us and show support for people living with autism.
Each person with autism is unique, with different treatment for different individuals. Some respond to intensive behavioral treatments, some to medicine and some to a combination of both. Treatment often involves the entire family, and as a community, we have an opportunity on April 29 to show them our support so they know they’re not alone.
For more information: www.newaygocountyautismcommuity.org