WVU Medicine Children’s bringing Autism Awareness to Monongalia County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopmental Center, in collaboration with autism service providers from the Monongalia County community, will sponsor a variety of autism awareness events for World Autism Day on April 2.

“In partnership with our local and statewide community providers and organizations, such as the Mountaineer Autism Project (MAP), we are excited to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day in a concerted effort in the Morgantown area, by lighting the town up blue ” Jodi Lindsey, M.D., pediatric neurologist, neurodevelopmental disabilities specialist, and director of the WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopmental Center, said. “We will be providing activities for our local families and friends to come together to spread awareness, share resources, and participate in fun activities for children and their parents.”

A highlight of the festivities will be several locations Lighting It Up Blue across Morgantown, including WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

From 6-8 p.m. on April 2, the Neurodevelopmental Center will present a free Family Fun Night at Stepping Stones in Mylan Park. Autism service providers from across Monongalia County will provide free activities for children and resources and information for parents. Sensory friendly activities will be held in a nearby area of the building. Some of the activities will include music provided by local music therapists, therapy animals, an obstacle course for kids, and free massages for parents. Food trucks will be available outside the building for reduced price meals, and popcorn and light snacks will be available inside.

In addition, April 3 will be Autism Awareness Night at the WVU Baseball game against Pitt at Monongalia County Ballpark. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. It is also Dollar Day, with all tickets costing only $1. Information on local autism services will be provided.

These events are in partnership with Mountaineer Autism Project’s Light It Up Blue events, also held in Charleston on the night of April 2, as well as Augusta Lecy Learning Center’s Light It Up Blue events in Wheeling. These free, informative community activities are part of International Light It Up Blue Autism Awareness Day activities across the globe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about one in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

For more information on the WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopmental Center, visit http://wvumedicine.org/childrens/neurodevelopmental.

Attention reporters and editors: If you would like to interview Dr. Jodi Lindsey and/or Dr. Susannah Poe from the WVU Medicine Children’s Neurodevelopmental Center during regular business hours on April 2, please contact Angela Jones-Knopf at knopfa@wvumedicine.org or Heather Sammons at heather.sammons@wvumedicine.org. Arrangements can also be made to capture photos and/or video of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital lit up blue that evening.