Shine blue lights to support autism awareness
Throughout this whole month, just as in Aprils past, you may notice various homes, businesses and landmarks in Charles County decorated in blue lights. It’s not because they’re feeling particularly festive this time of year, but because they’re honoring a tradition started by advocates to raise awareness of autism.
According to the nonprofit group Autism Speaks, autism — or autism spectrum disorder — can include a range of conditions related to challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication and unique strengths and differences. The spectrum comes into play in that it isn’t a one-sizefits-all diagnosis. There are varying degrees of severity, and one individual with autism’s most challenging obstacle may be another individual’s most revered strength.
Because of this wide range of differences, schools can often find it hard to cater to individual students on the autism spectrum, and law enforcement often doesn’t know how best to handle calls involving someone with autism. That is improving through awareness and sensitivity.
But not all members of the community are knowledgeable about autism. And that’s the basis behind the Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign, a portion of the commemoration of Autism Awareness Month.
This month, the Southern Maryland community is celebrating awareness of autism in a number of ways that allow the public to take part.
On Friday, April 7, Calvert High School’s boys lacrosse team invites the community to break out their blue and attend the junior varsity and varsity “Blue Out” games at 4:30 and 6 p.m. The idea is to fill the stands with blue for Autism Awareness Month, and there will also be a raffle at the gate to support the school’s Best Buddies program, which provides opportunities for students with special needs to form friendships with their peers. Raffled items include Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles tickets, local concert tickets and spa donations. For more, go to www.facebook.com/ events/1894500984142000.
The following day, April 8, the Autism Spectrum Support Group of Southern Maryland will host “Raising Awareness Day & Knight” from noon to 5 p.m. at Bollywood Masala Taphouse in California, across from Wildewood Center. The “noble knights” and “fair ladies” of Personalized Therapy LLC invite families to enjoy games, crafts, bounce houses, a silent auction and dessert auction, vendors and service providers, a buffet and more. Area organizations will provide information and resources about autism spectrum disorders and related support. Event proceeds go to local nonprofits that work with individuals and families impacted by autism.
Then later this month, the public is welcome to “Rock Out for Autism” from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Olde Town Pub in Leonardtown. A portion of food and drink sales from this annual event, which features local and regional bands, will be donated to nonprofit organizations in the area that support those with autism and their families.
To get more information on either of the events, go to autism-support-somd.org.
In addition, the Charles County Autism Support Group Autism/ADHD Support Group of Charles County meets on the second Friday of every month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Panera Bread in La Plata.
So if you see blue lights this month, do whatever you can to help the cause of autism awareness and support.