Patients, community members and staff at Miller Children’s & Women’s held 67 blue balloons and 1 white balloon to signify the 1 in 68 children who have autism spectrum disorder.
On Wednesday, April 4, staff, community members, patients and their families gathered in their favorite blue outfits at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach to kick off Autism Awareness Month. The annual “Light It Up Blue” event brings the community together to raise awareness and show support for families affected by autism.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this exactly occurs is not well understood yet. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a spectrum disorder that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
In an effort to show the prevalence of autism, attendees held up 67 blue balloons and 1 white balloon to represent that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder.
The community supporters snacked on chicken nuggets and cookies, generously donated by Chick-fil-A at the Long Beach traffic circle, while they snapped pictures with Miller Children’s & Women’s mascot, Millie the Dolphin, and the Chick-fil-A cow. The children in attendance played with bubbles as they waited for their turn to create blue slime.
Gary Feldman, M.D., medical director, Stramski Children’s Developmental Center,
Miller Children’s & Women’s, spoke at the event about the importance of raising awareness,
as well as early diagnosis and treatment.
“When it comes to your child’s health, autism is a disorder that can’t be ignored or overlooked,” says Dr. Feldman. “Early interventions have a strong influence on long-term outcomes. At the Stramski Center, we do assessments, provide education and guidance, so that the child with autism can get appropriate therapies, which will contribute to better brain function, communication skills and early social behavior.”
The Stramski Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s is a comprehensive center that cares for children — from birth to age 21 — with behavioral and developmental conditions, such as autism, Fragile X, ADHD/ADD, Down Syndrome and other learning disabilities. The Stramski Center is home to Southern California’s only Fragile X Program with families coming from all over the Southwest to be treated. Fragile X syndrome is the most common known single gene cause of autism.
Patients of the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center participated in sensory activities, including creating blue slime.
Patients faces lit up as they met Miller Children’s & Women’s mascot, Millie the Dolphin, and the