PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today turned the fountain at the Allegheny County Courthouse blue in observance of World Autism Awareness Day. The fountain will remain blue throughout the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month.
“Allegheny County is proud to show our support for individuals and families who are affected by autism,” said Fitzgerald. “We hope by turning the courthouse fountain blue that we will increase awareness of this complex disorder.”
The County Executive also presented Autism Speaks Pittsburgh Chapter Executive Director Rich Mallow and Board of Directors Secretary Patti McCloud with a proclamation declaring April “Autism Awareness Month” in Allegheny County.
This evening, buildings and landmarks around the world will display blue lights to call attention to autism spectrum disorders, including the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, and Niagara Falls. A number of local buildings and organizations are also joining the “Light It Up Blue” effort, including the Andy Warhol Museum, BNY Mellon Center, Carnegie Science Center, Fifth Avenue Place, Consol Energy Center, PNC Park, Grant Street Transportation Center, and Rivers Casino.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination, and attention and physical health issues. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention identify 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum – a 1000 percent increase in prevalence in 40 years. Studies also show that autism is three to four times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 54 boys is diagnosed with autism in the United States.
More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. ASD affects an estimated 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.
To learn more about autism spectrum disorder, visit www.autismspeaks.org.
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