Randolph, Mass. – What does autism look like? Millions of commuters in Massachusetts will find out during April – National Autism Awareness Month – thanks to the return of a powerful public awareness campaign that puts a human face on the disorder. It does so through beautiful photographs, compelling stories of children and adolescents with autism, and critical facts about the disorder.
The campaign – “What Does Autism Look Like?” – was created by May Institute, a national nonprofit organization that serves individuals with autism and other special needs. This year’s expanded campaign includes nearly 1,500 informational pieces displayed in subway stations and on subway cars, buses, and commuter trains across the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system. (Click here to view related video.)
“May Institute is committed to increasing public awareness about autism and to educating communities about the facts of the disorder.” said President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP. “We know that increased awareness results in earlier diagnosis and treatment – critical components for the future success of children with autism.”
This year the campaign showcases four new faces among the nine children, adolescents, and young adults featured. They range in age from four to 20, and are from communities across Massachusetts. They are representative of the diversity of autism, which occurs in all races, ethnicities, and social groups.
“Each year that we’ve done this campaign – and this is our third year – we have had an outpouring of response from the public,” said Eileen Pollack, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at May Institute. “These children, and their personal messages, really resonate for people. We are so grateful to these families whose courage and generosity allow us to share glimpses into their children’s lives. They are helping to broaden the public’s understanding of autism.”
For Michael and Suzanne, the parents of 12-year-old Matthew, the campaign provides their son with a special opportunity. “Matthew has always had the ability to draw people into his life – to communicate love, happiness, and caring for others. Being one of the faces of this campaign gives him the opportunity to shine as an educator about those who share his special traits.”
Autism is a developmental disability that occurs in at least one in every 110 children. It is a neurological disorder that affects the development of the brain, causing difficulty with communication, learning and social interaction. Autism is one of several autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that include Asperger’s Syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). In Massachusetts, nearly 12,000 school-aged children have been diagnosed with autism.
About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and other behavioral health needs. Since its founding more than 55 years ago, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning national network that serves thousands of individuals and their families annually. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org.