SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – This was the fifth annual autism awareness fair at the Martin Luther King Junior Community Center. The gathering came at a time when autism birth rates are now one child in 50.
Autism parent Jacqueline Williams-Hines is founder of a movement called “No Small Victories”. She told 22News, “Most people aren’t aware that African-Americans have an almost 18 month diagnostic disparity, so we’re trying to get that information out into our community.”
Parents of autistic children shared their experiences. They told 22News no two autistic child experiences are the same. William Witherspoon of Springfield said, ““There are different levels. Some in communication; they’re shy, they don’t like looking you in the face, don’t like being touched.”
Parent Vanessa Alfaro said, “I think it’s awesome that they’re doing this for kids, my daughter being in the spectrum as well. Very supportive. I think it’s awesome.”
As it stands now, autism is the largest growing disability affecting children. Among the goals of this autism awareness fair was to bring families closer to the services their autistic children need and deserve.