April 11-12: Activities aim to support families during Autism Awareness Month

Executive Director of the National Autism Center Hanna Rue will speak at the May Institute at 6:30 p.m. April 11. This is free and open to the public. The May Institute, Inc. is in the Main Street Villages, 6298 Veterans Parkway, Suite 9B, in Columbus, GA. Call 706-571-7771 ext. 100 for reservations. Rue is also the vice president of Autism services for The May Institute, Inc.

She will also speak at The Autism Awareness Expo at noon April 12. The expo is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 12 at the Army Community Service Building 7, Baltzell Avenue. The Fort Benning Exceptional Family Member Program and the Family Advocacy Program hope to educate and connect with families of autistic children during Autism Awareness Month. Autism service providers will be at the expo to provide information and resources for families. 706-545-5521.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 88 children in the U.S. It does not discriminate against race or intellectual ability. ASD diagnoses have increased 23 percent since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 23,000 military family members have been identified on the autism spectrum and these families are substantially affected by the financial and emotional costs of raising a child with autism.