What does autism look like? Millions of commuters in Massachusetts will find out during April – National Autism Awareness Month – thanks to a powerful public awareness campaign that features photos and stories of children with autism as well as important information about the disorder.
The campaign – What Does Autism Look Like? – was created by May Institute, a national nonprofit organization that serves individuals with autism and other special needs, and is being sponsored by LoJack Corporation and its LoJack SafetyNet service. What Does Autism Look Like? will be launched today at a press conference at 11 a.m. at South Station in Boston.
This year's campaign includes more than 1,000 informational pieces on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system – 125 platform posters in dozens of subway and commuter rail stations, and 900 educational car cards displayed in subway cars and buses. As many as 1.3 million riders use the MBTA each day.
"May Institute and our National Autism Center are committed to increasing public awareness about autism," said President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP. "We are delighted to partner with LoJack Corporation on this campaign. We know that increased awareness results in earlier diagnosis and treatment – critical components for the future success of children with autism."
"May Institute is a highly regarded organization," said John Paul Marosy, General Manager of LoJack SafetyNet. "LoJack is very pleased to support the Institute's efforts to generate awareness of autism and other cognitive conditions through this campaign."
Families whose children are highlighted in the campaign, and in May Institute's award-winning Faces and Voices of Autism photo exhibition, will be honored during the press conference for their contributions to the Institute's awareness efforts. State Representative Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) and various other legislators will recognize the families and present them with citations from the state.
"The prevalence of autism in our state is deeply concerning," said Representative L'Italien, who serves as Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. "On both a professional and personal level, I appreciate the efforts of all those involved in working with May Institute to raise awareness and educate the public through this campaign on the MBTA."
"This is a great partnership and we are excited to be part of an initiative that works to educate the public on autism," said MBTA General Manager Richard A. Davey. "This outreach effort is a smart way to share such critical information with thousands of customers who ride the T each day."
Autism is a developmental disability that occurs in at least one in every 110 children. In Massachusetts, nearly 11,000 school-aged children have been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that affects the development of the brain, causing difficulty with communication, learning, and social interaction.
SOURCE May Institute