New effort to promote autism awareness launched

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–  On the heels of a new government report showing a spike in the number of children living with Autism, there’s a new campaign kicking off in Connecticut to help people better understand the disorder. It’s called the Spectrum of Kindness.

A packed room at the state capitol represents just a fraction of the families dealing with autism.

“My son’s name is Adrian. He is a 14-year-old student and happy adolescent who happens to be under the spectrum,” said Jessica Serrano-Cortez, a mother.

Jessica and her husband came to the capitol to lobby their legislators for more services for the growing autistic population.

“Basically what we’re advocating is for all the services that we have struggled throughout the years to reach, the awareness, the disposition to bring services in and make sure that they are funded,” said Serrano-Cortez.

It’s a growing concern. One out of every 68 children is now diagnosed with some form of autism.

“It really does help when you see you’re not the only family, because at times you tend to feel isolated,” said Alberto Cortez, a father.

That feeling of isolation goes on every day, but on this Autism Awareness Day, the Hospital for Special Care is unveiling a new website, what they call an online community to help people feel a little less isolated.

“Hi, my name is Ellen. I have a 7 and a half year old son who has autism…”

It’s called the Spectrum of Kindness, and it’s people sharing stories about acts of kindness, like Chris whose daughter with autism had a meltdown at a restaurant, and he had to leave.

“Before I even got to the car, the manager was there to tell me not to worry about the food. They paid for it and they bundled it up for my wife.”

“We want the folks who are living with autism to understand that they’re not alone and we want them to be encouraged and inspired,” said Lynne Ricci, Hospital for Special Care COO.

Hospital lit up blue

News 8 met up with the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer before dawn to see the building lit up blue for autism. She says the important thing for all of us to remember is how differently people are affected.

“So there’s a lot of variability amongst the folks who are living with autism, so we want them to be tolerant and learn more about it and understand that it really is a spectrum disorder,” said Ricci.

If someone in your life is on that spectrum, you can check out that online community  at spectrumofkindness.org.

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