April may traditionally be known for its showers, however, the month also represents campaigns to reduce distracted driving, to advance autism awareness and to make the most of grilled cheese.
Autism Awareness Month is intended to encourage families, schools, universities and community agencies to support programs and raise awareness of what Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe calls an epidemic.
The latest statistics report that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which occurs over all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and is now five times more common in boys than girls (previous statistics reported boys were four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD). The 1 in 88 figure "is a huge jump from 1 in 110, which was the surveillance statistic just two years ago," said Amy Cusack, director of communications and community outreach for Hermosa Beach-based FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.
"This huge increase in autism impacts not only the child, but the family, as well," said Knabe. "We need to increase our support for local families and work together as a community to create programs and services that
help diagnosed children reach their full potential and live full and happy
FirstStep for Kids will "Light Metlox Blue" April 16-21 to fundraise and shine a light on autism. The organization, which has provided services for hundreds of families in the area, according to Cusack, will light the fountain in Metlox Plaza in Manhattan Beach blue every night during the local awareness campaign.
In addition, FirstSteps is partnering with local eateries and other establishments to raise funds for their Team FirstSteps for Autism Speaks, which will walk in the 10th Annual Walk Now For Autism Speaks: Los Angeles on Saturday, April 21. FirstSteps aims to raise $20,000 through the walk and has raised $12,879 so far.
, and will contribute a portion of sales from certain nights to FirstSteps. will be the site of a benefit on Thursday, April 19, from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 presale; $35 at the door, according to an online flyer, and are available from FirstSteps.
City News Service contributed to this report.