Tonight, the Patios at the Westfield Valencia Town Center will turn blue, in lights and beverages and appetizers offered at a gathering to support World Autism Awareness Day.
From 7 to 9 p.m., the public is invited to learn about autism and the support groups available in our community, including the Santa Clarita Autism Asperger Network. At the gathering, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurie Ender will offer her personal experience and words of support to the manny families affected by autism.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism in the U.S. to be one in 88, nearly double the number diagnosed a decade ago. Among boys, the rate of autism spectrum disorders is one in 54, in girls, the rate is one in 252. The increase has been attitributed to better diagnoses, broader criteria and higher awareness of autism.
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One of the people at the gathering tonight will be Stacy Melton Haddock, the wife of KHTS Sports Director Tim Haddock. She offered a parents-eye view of the disorder.
I cannot think of Autism Awareness without thinking of that wet and rainy day in April 2004. I joined with group of autism moms to walk for Autism Awareness at Dodger Stadium. We were Team SCV and if memory serves me correctly, we were one of the top 10 money raising teams that year.
As a mom of a child who had recently been diagnosed with autism, I truly needed these ladies help. I did not have any idea of what was to come, but they did, and they were always willing to help. These ladies came from a Santa Clarita support group now called the Santa Clarita Autism Asperger Network (SCAAN).
For SCAAN every day is Autism Awareness day. They organize autism friendly events throughout the year. Many of these events are in our community. One of challenges for our families is that autism can be incredibly isolating. Sometimes just going to a store with a person with autism can be extremely difficult. However going to a SCAAN outing in groups with fun activities for all gives our families a safe place to interact in the community. In many cases, it gives our community a chance to learn with us.
Monday April 2, 2012, is another example of a SCAAN event. The Patios at Westfield Valencia Town Center will light it up blue in celebration of Autism Awareness from 7 to 9 pm. This is a public event with live music and refreshments as well as information about autism and related services here in the Santa Clarita Valley.
I asked Emily Iland, the president of the Autism Society of Los Angeles who has been working for families in the Santa Clarita Valley for many years, what we could do for Autism Awareness. She indicated that it is very important for the rest of us to learn about autism and tolerance. One of the best ways to do that is to volunteer or support a SCAAN event.
This year for Autism Awareness, most of the families I spoke with indicated that they would be lighting their homes blue as well as attending the Santa Clarita Lights It Up Blue event at the Valencia Town Center in celebration, to honor their loved ones on the Autism Spectrum.
Ryan and I will be recognizing autism at the Town Center in blue — that is if I can get Ryan to wear something blue. In addition, I will be celebrating with the ladies of Team SCV, who in the rain, finished the whole walk soaking wet. Most importantly, I will be celebrating Ryan and his friends, all of their hard work and accomplishments.