Local center recognizes World Autism Day

Tuesday marks World Autism Day. One in 88 U.S. children are affected with autism according to the Center for Disease Control. Autism experts in Joplin say autism cases are on the rise.

Leslie Barns started taking her son, Lawson, to the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism (on Facebook) when he was six. Now, a year later, she says the Center has helped her son and her family.

“He never even played with a toy until we started here and now he goes at home and finds toys he’s had for five years, but now he knows what to do with them,” says Barns. “As you go along the journey you start to realize what a wonderful gift you have, and you have this child that has this insight that others don’t and you get to learn from them and see the way they see things and it turns into quite a blessing.”

According to the Center’s director, Jennifer Kirby, 60 individuals with autism, from children to adults, use the center for services including diagnostic, therapy and support. The Center says it’s parents like Barns who help change the perception of autism in society.

“Let’s celebrate individuality, let’s really hold these kids, teenagers, adults up and pat them on the back for their achievements and let’s hold these families up and let’s talk to them about what a great job they are doing supporting their kids and family members,” says Kirby.

Though the developmental disorder does affect areas such as communication and interaction to social ability, the Center says each case is different.

In honor of Autism Awareness Day, Barns says she hopes it reminds people to be more patient with the autistic children they see.

“Don’t judge others, don’t think it’s a parenting issue, sometimes it’s not and that means a lot for awareness,” says Barns.

Barns says busting through stereotypes is important for people with autism every day of the year.

The Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism will hold a Walk for the Cause this Saturday at 8 a.m. For more information on the event CLICK HERE.