On Friday, March 31, community members, patients and families from the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach came together to kick off Autism Acceptance Month.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially with others. It is a spectrum disorder that affects individuals in many different ways and in different areas of life, depending on a variety of factors, from genetics, environmental, and other medical conditions on a varying range of levels.
“Autism is a disorder that needs to be embraced,” says Gary Feldman, M.D., medical director, Stramski Children’s Developmental Center. “Early interventions and finding a support system, can have a positive influence on the child’s development, and that often extends to support the families.”
To show the prevalence of autism, attendees gathered with one large white beachball surrounded by 36 blue ones in front of the entrance to Miller Children’s & Women’s to represent the one in 36 children identified on the autism spectrum in the U.S.
Patients and families also took part in sensory activities like making slime and blowing bubbles.
Chick-fil-A at the 405 & Atlantic, generously catered the event, providing snacks and cookies for attendees. They also brought along their mascot, the “Eat Mor Chikin” Cow, who took time to dance and take pictures with children along with the Miller Children’s & Women’s mascot, Millie the Dolphin.
“This event brings together the community,” says Ioana Pal, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, Stramski Children’s Developmental Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “Families are able to gather together in support of our patients, in support of one another, connect to helpful resources and meet others who are going through similar experiences. Acceptance means understanding and sharing burdens as well as solutions, awareness of limitations, and knowing when to ask for help.”
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 one of two Southern California Fragile X Programs with families coming from all over the Southwest to be treated. Fragile X Syndrome is the most commonly known single gene cause of autism.