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    Saturday, June 15, 2019-12:51:12A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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April is Autism Awareness Month

TO help increase awareness and understanding about autism, Lt. Gov. Arnold O. Palacios on Tuesday signed a proclamation designating April as Autism Awareness Month.

Autism is a complex and not well-understood disability that affects every ethnic group, country, and socio-economic class, the proclamation stated.

“The Centers for Disease Control reported…that one in 59 U.S. children has autism,” it added.

Twelve years ago, Efren Nicholas, chairman of the Developmental Disabilities Council and president of the Voices of the CNMI and the Autism Society, launched a Commonwealth-wide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination.

He said the goal is to ensure that each person with autism spectrum disorder or ASD is provided the opportunity to receive the highest possible quality of life.

Volunteers, lawmakers and other officials, including first lady Diann T. Torres, pose for a photo outside the administration building following the proclamation signing ceremony for Autism Awareness Month.  Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio Volunteers, lawmakers and other officials, including first lady Diann T. Torres, pose for a photo outside the administration building following the proclamation signing ceremony for Autism Awareness Month. Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

At the proclamation-signing ceremony in the governor’s conference room on Tuesday, Nicholas said this year, “We want to encourage friends and collaborators to become partners in a movement toward acceptance and appreciation.”

In the past 12 years, he said they focused on working with the community to provide services and programs supporting all individuals living with autism.

“We want to expand this work to focus on the rest of us, ensuring acceptance and inclusion in schools and communities and appreciating the unique aspects of all people. We want to get one-step closer to a society in which those ASD are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts,” Nicholas said.

First lady Diann T. Torres, for her part, said they are working on several programs to help students with autism.

As for the Public School System, Associate Education Commissioner Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan said they are preparing pathways that can meet the needs of students with autism so they can have a meaningful life. “We are not prescribing success, but we are helping clear that path for them so that they can move on and follow their dreams. Outside the gate, our responsibility does not end. We are partners in education and success of families and kids.”