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Autism Awareness Month Kicks Off with Katy Programs and Celebrations

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

April 1, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark


Today begins Autism Awareness Month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 54 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Local groups recognize autism, the families impacted, and raise awareness by providing resources and information about a disorder that affects so many.

The Montgomery Family, the family that inspired Hope for Three, leads the autism awareness parade at the annual Strike Out Autism Family Fun Day hosting over 450 family members from the autism community.


Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Many families in Katy face daily challenges due to an autistic family member.


"Having autism is like looking at three TV channels, listening to the radio, and reading ten letters all at one time, with the mental assignment to read just one letter and give one response," explains Jennifer Smits, a young adult on the spectrum. "With the expectation to do this fast, this situation becomes chaotic, unpredictable, and threatening. It makes me angry, sad, and aggressive.”


Local organizations such as Hope For Three and the ARC of Katy work to provide resources and raise awareness for autism and the families who live this reality each day.


In addition to raising awareness, Hope For Three works to provide support to families in the form on financial aid.


The annual cost of care for one child with autism is estimated at $60,000, which is more than the minimum average household income for Houstonians at $51,203. Over the past decade, Hope For Three has awarded more than $1.1 million in financial aid, directly impacting families, and provided resources to more than 4,000 inquiring parties.


The nonprofit organization has impacted more than 16,600 students, counselors, nurses, and educators through programs such as Teen Huddle and It's Cool To Care.


The group also collaborates with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program and has trained around 2,000 members of law enforcement on the characteristics of autism and engagement strategies. This helps law enforcement to better understand those on the spectrum and how they can best serve those members of the community.


Learn more about this partnership and special training here.