The Augusta Levy Learning Center is an organization in Wheeling that works with children with autism using early intervention. They have also recently incorporated a program for pre-teens.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and they say they are working to raise awareness about what autism really is.
Autism is a developmental disorder that can impact social and communication skills.
It can be diagnosed at any time, but most parents notice signs early in their child’s life.
The Augusta Levy Learning Center is hoping to raise awareness about the disorder and increase acceptance of individuals with autism.
“I think some of the acceptance things that we need to work on are learning what autism really is and that it impacts one in 68 children which is growing every year at a rate of 10 to 17 percent. The public should just kind of learn what that is and know the signs,” said Staci Stephen, Director of Development.
Some signs of autism include lack of eye contact and facial expressions, not meeting milestones at appropriate times, and trouble with speech.
Stephen says with early intervention, autistic children can advance in their development.
“They’re capable of learning in a group setting. They’re capable of learning like their typical peers, playing like their typical peers, and that early intervention is a crucial piece of that to get them to where they need to be,” said Stephen.
There are many misconceptions about autism, but one of the biggest is that the disorder looks the same on everyone.
“There’s a saying that if you’ve met an individual with autism, you’ve met an individual with autism, which means you might know two brothers who both have autism, but one is entirely different that the other. It is a spectrum disorder,” said Executive Director Angela Wood.
Augusta Levy hopes that by the end of Autism Awareness Month, they will have corrected this misconception as well as many others.