Autism Awareness Month: Available services and concerns facing the community

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BOWLING GREEN , Ky. (WBKO) -- April is known as Autism Awareness Month.

Autism advocates have highlighted local services available, and also the issues facing the community.

"If you meet one person with autism, you meet one person with autism because it manifests so differently," Laura Orsland, creator of the HIVE.

According to the CDC, 1 and 68 people are diagnosed on the spectrum.

"The numbers are growing rapidly and we are having a huge shortage of providers in order to meet the needs of all of the individuals who are in need of services," said Michelle Antle, Field Training Coordinator for the Kentucky Autism Training Center.

Finding those services are crucial.

"From the time they're little you're trying to navigate what services are available," said Orsland.

"Being an autism mom is never knowing what might make them upset, what might make them happy," explained Laura Shonk. "It changes every day, just like it does with nuero-typical kids."

There's a handful of services offered locally such as the HIVE, Kelly Autism, Hopebridge, among other programs. However, the need for more is growing.

"The earlier that we intervene with these individuals, the more successful that they are and their outcomes are so much better," said Antle.

The purpose of April promotes autism and educates others who don't have it.

"[April] also calls attention to the positive strengths of many of our students," said Antle.

Meanwhile highlighting something greater.

"They're individuals just like you and I," said Antle.

These individuals long for something we all do.

"They want to be accepted and they want to have friends," said Orsland.

As we begin a month of raising awareness and creating acceptance, it's important to remember those with autism are affected beyond a month, but rather for the rest of their lives .

"Hug somebody with autism, hug the mother of somebody with autism, the dad, the grandmother, the teacher," said Shonk.

The Clinical Educational Complex is hosting the 12th annual LifeSkills Run for Autism! on April 21. Register by clicking here .

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