Locals hope for more autism awareness - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Locals hope for more autism awareness

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A recent government study reveals autism is more prevalent than ever before with one in every 68 American children diagnosed with the developmental disorder.

It is World Autism Awareness Day. Many local parents are banding together to improve the way our community reacts to individuals on the spectrum.   

Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. with more than 2 million Americans currently living with it. While research has come a long way in the last few decades, there's still no known cause or cure.

Here in Chattanooga, some people are sharing personal stories to change the way you may think about it.

"It takes time for people to get to know others who are autistic in nature, but we're very friendly and we want to be of help," Scott Kramer said.

Scott Kramer is a senior accounting student at UTC. He also happens to be on the Autism Spectrum. He's sharing his story of being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome to a crowd of local leaders, parents and others with autism.

Scott wants more local companies to take notice of the intellectual abilities people with autism have, and hire them.

"There's more of us being diagnosed and all of us eventually grow up to become adults," he said.

New CDC research shows one in every 68 children is diagnosed with autism. That's broken down to 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.

"Only emphasizes how important it is for this awareness growth to continue because with more awareness becomes more opportunity to identify children early and get them early intervention," Siskin Children's Institute CEO John Farrimond said.

Mom Melissa Post says Chattanooga has more resources now than six years ago when doctors diagnosed her son.

"I would Google 'Chattanooga and autism' and nothing would come up," Melissa Post said.

Most insurance still doesn't cover many of the therapies kids like him need, for example, speech services.

"Charlie definitely knows what's going on, but he can't communicate," Post said.

On average, it costs a family $60,000 a year for autism treatments. That's in addition to the stress of dealing with a lack of social acceptance.

"No matter how good you are at parenting you still get funny looks like control your child," Stacey Gilday said.

It's a journey mom Stacey Gilday is just beginning with her son, Simon.

"I hope people always give him a chance and just get to know who he is," Gilday said.

Local parents say they left the event feeling encouraged. You may notice people wearing blue and that's to show support of World Autism Awareness Day. Some local businesses are also shining blue lights.

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