April brings awareness about autism - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

April brings awareness about autism

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The Pier Center for Autism offers programs for kids and adults on the autism spectrum. The Pier Center for Autism offers programs for kids and adults on the autism spectrum.

April is Autism Awareness month.  You'll see blue lights on front porches, people wearing blue, and several fundraisers to mark the month, but the message about autism remains the same. 

Autism is a developmental disability that affects one in every 88 children and one in 54 boys.  There's no known cause or cure, but early intervention can help.

"Early intervention has been shown to be very effective," says Josh Cobbs with the Pier Center for Autism in Sioux City.  "Now, that does not mean that if you didn't get diagnosed early that you can't still benefit from great treatment, so we want to see folks in the door who we can best benefit and that we want to continue to make sure that we help spread the awareness throughout the community."

That's where the Pier Center for Autism in Sioux City comes in.  The center offers programs for kids and adults on the autism spectrum to help them work on social and communication skills.

"As families are looking for more services, maybe outside of a traditional setting, or more services as their children age into different groups, we want to be able to provide that right here in Siouxland, says Cobbs.

Also, the Center has teamed up with Briar Cliff University to offer a special graduate program for students.

"We are the first university in the state of Iowa to offer a program that leads people to the certification of board certified behavior analysis with a specialization in autism," says Paul Olson, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of Social & Behavioral Science at Briar Cliff University.

Olson says the state has a shortage of professionals who specialize in autism, and this program should help.

"It's really valuable and it really works and for the state to only have 34 board certified behavior analasists means that a lot of people are not receiving the type of treatments that they could really benefit from and so we want to step in and fill in that gap and get the help that they need," says Olson.

The program will start this summer with about 10 students, but they hope it will grow over the next couple of years.

But even if you don't have some in your family on the autism spectrum, you can help.

"I would say offer a hand to families in need and it's not always a financial hand," says Cobbs.  "It can be a shoulder to lean on so reach out to family members who you know have family members on the spectrum and just ask if you can do a little bit extra in the month of April."

There are several events planned for the Siouxland area to mark the month.  The 7th Annual Autism Awareness run and walk is April 28th.  It's at Bacon Creek Park.  Registration begins at noon, and the starts at 1:00.  On May 4th, it's the Derby & Dreams Party at the Dakota Dunes Country Club.  You can watch the Kentucky Derby and enjoy a fashion show and dinner.  The fundraiser starts at 3:30 p.m. and will benefit the Pier Center for Autism.

For more information on the run/walk, go to the Siouxland Autism Support Group's website. 

For more information on the Derby & Dreams Party, go to The Pier Center for Autism website.

For more information on autism, go to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

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