Raising awareness for World Autism Day

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day, an annual opportunity to help people understand and accept people with autism.

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder characterized by deficits in social and language communication – as well as repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder range from low to high functioning.

It was eight years ago on this day when Kim Cartelli received her son Anthony’s autism diagnosis. Now, on this Autism Awareness Day, the Longmeadow mother is sharing her experience. Kim said that like so many parents with a child with autism, she had to learn to adapt. Like responding to her son when he’s crying, giving him the tools to communicate what he needs.

She said if she could talk to herself eight years ago, she would remind herself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. While it can be a challenge to find those resources, she said it is so essential in helping your child.

“While it’s sometimes hard to hear that diagnosis, once you can digest it yourself, you are your child’s best advocate. So the outcomes are going to be best by what services you can get for them,” said Cartelli.

Ultimately she recommends you first consult with your pediatrician but she said there are some good local resources that can help out such as Autism Connections, May Center School and Tate Behavioral.

Men and women with autism came together with their families and community advocates gathered Friday for a special occasion in Chicopee.

“We are committed to promoting the safety of everyone, so we gather in this small group for this flag raising ceremony,” said Gina Kos, Executive Director of Sunshine Village.

The flag raising ceremony also honored the work of Sunshine Village in Chicopee, the agency that provides autistic young adults with the skills and confidence required to best advance beyond their developmental disabilities.

The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism. The 2021 observance will feature a virtual event including moderated panel discussions with individuals on the autism spectrum themselves focusing on challenges and opportunities for post-pandemic employment.

The discussion will be held on April 8 at 10:00 a.m. You can register to participate on the United Nations website.

Social Media: World Autism Awareness Day

Mayor Domenic Sarno and the City of Springfield will observe the start of Autism Awareness Day Friday morning. Sarno will join Lisa Poutre of Sunshine Village, an organization that helps adults with autism, in a news conference at 10:30 inside City Hall.

Sarno will present a declaration declaring April 2, 2021 as Autism Awareness Day in the city.

Sunshine Village, families and community members, city councilors, city officials participated in a ceremony to raise the Autism Awareness Flag at Chicopee City Hall. 

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