MOUNT CARMEL — Three weeks ago, during the March 15 regular meeting of the city council, Sue Thompson spoke to the council and meeting attendees about Autism awareness.
She followed a proclamation by the mayor to make today, April 2 Autism Awareness Day in Mount Carmel. He urged the community to participate in awareness-enabling activities.
“While there is no cure for autism, it is well-documented that if individuals with autism receive early and intensive treatment throughout their lives, they lead significantly improved lives,” Mayor Hudson read.
More health professionals have become proficient at diagnosing autism, Hudson noted during the proclamation.
After he read the proclamation aloud, Hudson noted that the three-week difference in time was due to the fact that council members would not all be present at either of the next two meetings.
Thompson, an educational assistant at Mount Carmel Grade School, spoke to the council and audience there as well.
She outlined the impact of autism, noting that with current statistics in mind, an estimated 123 people could be diagnosed with autism in the city.
“I work in the school system, there’s probably that just in school kids,” she said.
Children can be diagnosed as early as 18 months, but generally between the ages of 2 and 3 years old, she added.
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Children with autism avoid physical contact, she said, as well as eye contact. “A big part of it is they don’t understand emotions,” she said. Around 40 percent of children with autism do not talk.
“We just ask that the public recognize this and be patient and loving and show support,” Thompson said, adding again that autism exists in Mount Carmel.
Through the Retail Merchants Committee, Thompson was able to create autism-awareness sun catchers to distribute around town to commemorate the newly proclaimed day.
A student of Thompson’s and his family attended the meeting.
The morning of April 1, Mount Carmel Grade School and city officials celebrated the posting of the Mayor’s proclamation in the school in preparation for Tuesday’s proclaimed status.