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Autism awareness spreads in Pike

‘˜Autism: I see the potential’ T-shirts were worn by people all over Pike County last week as part of Work the Shirt 2014, an Autism Awareness Month campaign held each April 2 which is also World Autism Awareness Day. The Work the Shirt initiative is driven by Deborah Dennis whose son Owen Dennis has autism and attends the primary school. ’My goal is to have Work the Shirt every April during Autism Awareness Month and have it grow each year so we can get more community awareness,’ she said. ‘I’ve found out these shirts open the door to conversations about autism. We want to let people know there’s hope and we can be positive about this.’ According to autismspeaks.org, one in 68 children are affected by autism. The prevalence of autism grows each year and boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed as autistic. There is no cure for autism but teachers, family and friends can support families who struggle with the day-to-day effects of autism. ’There’s strength in numbers. Since the number of autism cases are rising, more than ever before we need to find strength in one another,’ said Dennis. The T-shirts can be worn through Autism Awareness Month and the year to show support for families touched by autism. ’This is our second year doing ‘˜Work the Shirt’ and I have been touched by the community outpouring for our children with autism,’ said Dennis. ‘Many people wore shirts and showed support that do not have a child with autism. Pike County is showing that our kids with autism matter. I can’t wait until next year.’

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