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Locals Raise Awareness on World Autism Day

The Autism Alliance of Northwest Missouri is bringing awareness to the disorder on Autism Awareness Day.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Lisa Gray is the mother of an 8-year-old boy with autism.

"Our kids just want to fit in, be like everybody else, grow up to be independent," she said.

Gray and others that are members of the Autism Alliance of Northwest Missouri is bringing awareness to the disorder. April is Autism Awareness Month. April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day.

"In September of 1989 they established the World Autism Awareness Day to recognize the need and prevalance of autism worldwide," Gray said.

The awareness month comes in the midst of a study released by the CDC last week reporting 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism. That statistic means the disorder is much more prevalent than it was just a few years ago.

"One of the biggest things, these increase in numbers, is it really that there is an increase in autism or are we doing a better job of screening children and detecting them," said Dr. Cynthia Brownfield, a pediatrician with Heartland.

Brownfield said education and awareness could lead to more children being diagnosed. She says the key is to diagnose the disorder at an early age so they can get treatment.

"Sometimes when children don't have the ability to actually speak their words, they may actually use some sign language through a speech therapist," Brownfield said.

Gray's son's form of autism prevents him from being able to speak, but with the help of technology, he can communicate using an iPad.

By understanding more about the disorder, Gray and other members of the Autism Alliance hope more in the community are aware of the disorder.

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