April is National Autism Awareness Month

To recognize April as National Autism Awareness Month, the APG Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, will host events to communicate the importance of awareness.

An Army Community Service-based program, EFMP is in place to support families with special needs or exceptional family members. According to the Autism Society, at http://www.autism-society.org/, National Autism Awareness Month is, “an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.”

EFMP Manager Nancy Goucher said parents of exceptional family members are encouraged to attend special events during April.

“Many times, in a declining economy, the focus is on nonprofit agencies which are the first to be cut,” Goucher said. “EFMP programs and resources support families so Soldiers can focus on their missions.”

EFMP Autism Table

To learn more about Autism Awareness, stop by the EFMP Autism Table during the 2K Family Color Fun Run set for 10 a.m. April 22 at the APG North (Aberdeen) chapel. Rain date is May 6. For more information, contact Goucher at 410-278-2420 or email nancy.e.goucher.civ@mail.mil.

Autism Support Group

The Autism Support Group: Communication & Behavioral Strategies for Parents of Special Needs, is set to meet 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 12, at the Corvias Community center, Bldg. 2658.

“This group offers parents the opportunity to learn more resiliency skills while networking,” said Goucher. “They can fine tune their skills while learning from each other.”

Raising Special Kids

An eight- week program, “Raising Special Kids,” is designed for the parents of children with special needs. Classes will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Wednesday, April 19 to June 14, at the Corvias Community Center, Bldg. 2658. Free workbooks are provided. For a full schedule, see page A8.

Autism Awareness Month

Goucher said parents and caregivers are encouraged to visit her office in ACS Bldg. 2503 for special needs reading materials, educational DVDs and children resources.

She encouraged others to find ways to show support for Autism Awareness Month during April, such as wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon or posting it on social media sites.

“No matter how you choose to support the autism community, your help can improve the lives of all families impacted by autism,” Goucher said.

Light It Up Blue

During April, community members are encouraged to show support and solidarity for Autism Awareness by replacing one or more outdoor or window lights with a blue bulb. Blue is the color of autism awareness.

Awareness facts

The primary reason for autism awareness is to inform communities about how autism affects individuals, families and communities. It’s also an opportunity for individuals and organizations to show support and acceptance of those directly affected by an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

ASD is a complex developmental disability. Signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention autism prevalence report concluded the frequency of ASD has risen over the last decade to one in every 68 births in the United States. That’s nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of one in 25 births and almost one in every 54 boys.

There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/support leads to significantly improved outcomes.

For more information, visit the Autism Society website at http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/national- autism-awareness-month/.

By Yvonne Johnson, APG News