Malta forum focuses on raising awareness of autism

With the number of people being diagnosed with autism on the rise, awareness of the disease is growing throughout the Capital District, where an Assembly GOP Autism Awareness Forum was held.

Education and awareness are vital to helping people understand the unique characteristics of autism, said Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, who co-hosted the event with Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Wilton.

State and county officials, as well as experts from around the region, gathered Saturday, April, 5, at Saratoga Bridges in Malta to discuss the affects of autism and provide resources to families and community members dealing with autistic individuals.

"Autism, which seems to be a growing epidemic, really hits home for so many families across Saratoga County and the Capital Region," said McDonald, whose two grandchildren are autistic. "I am hosting this autism awareness forum to listen to families, friends and caregivers of those living with autism to gather information about how the state Legislature can best provide New Yorkers a measure of relief."

One in 150 children are afflicted by autism, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Autism is a developmental disability characterized by significant social interaction and communication impairments. Individuals suffering from autism also typically present unusual behaviors and interests and can vary in capabilities from gifted to severely challenged, according to the CDC.

While autism can affect a person from any racial, socio-economic, or ethnic background, it is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls, the CDC reported.

"Our ultimate goal is to take the information we learn at these forums and use it to craft legislation that helps families provide their loved ones with autism the support and care they need," Amedore said.

Executive Director of Saratoga Bridges Valerie Muratori said the forum was a chance to hear what families dealing with autism were saying.

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