April is National Autism Awareness Month - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Posted: Updated:
(Source: MGN) (Source: MGN)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

One in 68 children is now affected by autism, that's a 30% increase from just two years ago according to the CDC. While April is autism awareness month, for families and those affected by the disorder, raising awareness is a lifelong mission.

"Autism is a neurological dysfunction, language impairment, they have difficulties interacting socially but they are by no means retarded and I hate that word," Leisha Smart said.

When Leisha Smart's son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, she had no idea what autism was, so she educated herself so she would know how to help her child.

"It's been a journey, we've had a lot of challenges but he amazes me almost every day," Smart said.

Smart's face lights up when she talks about Barney, she describes her 13-year-old son as well-behaved, loving and smart.

"Autism is not a disability, it's just another ability."

And Barney's teacher, Erica Dunwoody, can vouch for that.

"I see the world differently, the longer I study autism and the more I'm with my kids and I see the world differently," Dunwoody said.

Dunwoody says the world is different for people who are different, and we can help by simply understanding.

"There's something they want, or something they need or there's something they're trying to communicate and as a family member or community member if there's something we can do to help meet that need then let's do it," Dunwoody said.

The special education teacher says families like Smart's are on the front line facing an uphill battle, and support and compassion can go a long way.

"Sometimes it's just as much as a smile or if a child is melting down in a grocery store, keep walking, don't stop and stare if that momma's got it, that momma's got it," Dunwoody said.

Both women agree that it's imperative to educate yourself about autism and educate others.

Just to give some perspective, when Smart's son, Barney, was diagnosed ten years ago the statistic for children affected by autism was at one in 150.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two teens charged with Gulfport man's murder

    Two teens charged with Gulfport man's murder

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-29 19:00:30 GMT
    Two Gulfport teens are charged with murder after police say they shot Lamont Hayes in his home last week and left him to die.More >>
    Two Gulfport teens are charged with murder after police say they shot Lamont Hayes in his home last week and left him to die. Monday night, investigators tracked down Jalen Shaquille Williams, 19, and arrested him at his home. Rashad Rejohn Johnson, 17, was arrested Monday at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Facility, where he was being held on an unrelated charge.More >>
  • SRHS to Close Two More Clinics

    SRHS to Close Two More Clinics

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:50:29 GMT
    Singing River Health System has announced the closure of two more primary care clinics as part of a realignment program. The Gautier and D'Iberville facilities will close August 29.
    More >>
    Singing River Health System has announced the closure of two more primary care clinics as part of a realignment program. According to SRHS officials, the Gautier and D'Iberville facilities will close August 29.More >>
  • Coroner: Gulfport murder victim was shot in the groin

    Coroner: Gulfport murder victim was shot in the groin

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:54 AM EDT2014-07-24 10:54:09 GMT
    According to Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, Lamont Hayes, 41, was shot in the groin area and bled to death just a few hours later Tuesday night.More >>
    An area of Gulfport still reeling from the brutal murder of a child last week was hit with another violent death Tuesday night. According to Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, Lamont Hayes, 41, was shot in the groin area and bled to death just a few hours later.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.