On Friday, April 1, patients, families, and care teams from the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach came together to kick off Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Day, which is on Saturday, April 2, by lighting Miller Children’s & Women’s blue.
Stramski Center Advisory Board members, patients, families, and the care team formed a human light bulb in front of Miller Children’s & Women’s. Dressed in blue, holding 44 blue balloons and one white balloon, the group demonstrated that 1 in 44 children in the United States are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that some children are born with and some are diagnosed with later in life,” says Ioana Pal, PsyD, clinical psychologist, Stramski Children’s Developmental Center. “It is important to bring awareness to autism because without early intervention, it becomes difficult for kids to meet their benchmarks and be in line with other kids at school.”
Autism is a complex developmental disability that can affect a child’s ability to communicate and interact socially with others. It’s a spectrum disorder that affects individuals in many different ways and on a varying range of levels.
At the beginning of April, organizations around the world “Light It Up Blue” in commemoration of the United Nations sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Miller Children’s lights up the outside of their hospital blue all month long.
“Bringing awareness through these kinds of events makes it easier to connect with the community,” says Dr. Pal. “It helps people know where to go for assessments and get referred to the right therapies.”
The Stramski Center at Miller Children’s & Women's is a comprehensive center that cares for children — from birth to age 21 — with behavioral and developmental conditions, such as autism, Fragile X, ADHD/ADD, Down Syndrome and other learning disabilities. The Stramski Center is home to Southern California’s only Fragile X Program with families coming from all over the Southwest to be treated. Fragile X Syndrome is the most common known single gene cause of autism.