It’s Light it Up Blue Day: April is Autism Acceptance Month

In 1988, President Reagan declared April as National Autism Awareness Month.  More recently, it has been titled Autism Acceptance Month. April is a month in which we can accept those who have autism and advocate for their rights.

Autism is a developmental disability that impacts the way people experience their surroundings. It is a spectrum disorder that affects people differently. It can impact communication, behavior, learning, and socialization.

two man laughing at each other

Those with autism may hyper-focus on certain interests and find change challenging.  It is a lifetime disease.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 36 children have autism. Many people with autism experience other conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, and gastrointestinal disorders.

While the cause is still unknown, researchers suspect both genetic and environmental components play a part.

Seeing a need for a local support group, Biglerville resident Tom Allwein was inspired to create one. Allwein has autism. He started the monthly group in September 2014. During the COVID pandemic, the group was on hiatus.

Allwein worked to restart the monthly meetings which began again last December. The meetings offer a safe place to socialize with other adults on the spectrum. Games and activities are available. Meetings are the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at Freedom Valley Worship Center located at 3185 York Road, Gettysburg.

Allwein has organized speakers for the meetings and hopes to do so in the future. Light refreshments are served.

Things to do During Autism Awareness Month

*Talk to someone with autism, get to know his or her interests

  • Read about autism spectrum disorder. Autism Speaks is a beneficial website
  • Look for community events for autism support such as Celebrate Success on Saturday, April 20th at the Gettysburg Rec Park
  • Decrease stigma
  • Every April 2nd wear Blue for Light It Up Blue Day to increase awareness of autism
  • Educate others about Allwein’s support group, share his flyer on social media or on a bulletin board

For additional information on Allwein’s support group, please email him at tom2679@comcast.net

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Amy is a freelance writer and reporter. She, her husband, and her two children reside in Adams County. She works in early childhood education and occupational therapy, and volunteers with local organizations.

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