Just in time for World Autism Awareness Day, members from the River Edge Girl Scout Troop #160 who attend organized a "Light It Up Blue Day" in all three River Edge Elementary Schools for Monday, to help shine a light on autism.
Students and staff members all wore blue t-shirts in honor of World Autism Awareness Day after Troop members were "buddied" together with students from the district's Building Bridges program at who are on the autism spectrum.
Currently in its third year, Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that helps shine a light on the growing public health concern of autism. It is organized by Autism Speaks, and aims to change the future of all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.
While the River Edge schools sported plenty of blue to raise awareness, iconic landmarks around the world, such as the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Great Buddha at Hyogo in Japan did the same.
At , resident and mother of an autistic student, Kathy DeSavino came into the second grade classrooms to lead lessons so students could learn the challenges autistic students face along with how to become their friend.
"You want them to learn how to respect, accept and understand about the challenges someone on the autism spectrum faces," DeSavino said. DeSavino also created an informational display at the as well. "I find that people don't know what autism is or may not know some of the signs to look for.
"I had an idea of what autism looks like because my husband's cousin is autistic," DeSavino continued. "What I didn't realize is that not everyone has the same behaviors. My son missed out on early intervention because of that."
The school district will continue to bring Autism Awareness to the forefront during the first-ever Carnival at for students in the Building Bridges and Building Connections programs on April 24, 6 to 8pm.
"Parents will be able to drop their child off for two hours," New Bridge Center Behavior Analyst Gianna Apicella said. "The students will be able to connect with one another."
According to Autism New Jersey, children and adults with autism exhibit atypical, repetitive behaviors and deficits in social and communication skills. Autism is usually diagnosed during the first three years of life and is four to five times more prevalent in boys than in girls.
Among some of the associated features of an autistic child or adult are: little or no eye contact, uneven development of skills, resistance to changes in routinem lack of demonstration of typical signs of affection, inappropriate laughing or crying or attachment to objects, aggressive or self-injurious behavior, or savant abilities (present in less than 2% of individuals diagnosed with autism).