HAZARD – April is Autism Awareness Month in Perry County, and members of a local support group are working to help families learn more about the range of disorders that now affect one in 88 children in the United States.
The Autism Support Group of Perry County hosted its fourth annual walk on Saturday to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which include three types of identifications such as Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The event also served as a fundraiser for the group, with approximately 400 people in attendance and bringing in just over $3,000. The funds will now be used for activities for the children or continued training for parents.
Viper resident Sharon Whitaker said the support group was a benefit to her and her family after her son was diagnosed with an ASD. At the time, she said she knew next to nothing about autism, and there was no local resources.
“We had to go out of the county to find out information,” Whitaker said.
Autism is the third most common developmental disability in the nation today, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Whitaker noted since her son’s diagnosis a few years ago, the prevalence of autism in the U.S. has increased, making it more important for parents to increase awareness and ensure there exists local information and training for families.
“I was lost, I didn’t know where to go or who to go to,” Whitaker said. “If it wasn’t for the support group, the training, I don’t know where Tyler would be at today, his behavior, or his education.”
The Autism Support Group of Perry County meets the third Wednesday of each month at Kentucky River Community Care next to Tim Short Ford on the Hal Rogers Parkway. Additional information can be found by visiting the group’s Facebook page, or by calling (606) 233-5889.