City Hall in Courtenay and Comox, along with numerous Valley businesses, will Light It Up Blue this Wednesday to support World Autism Awareness Day.
Each April 2, Autism Speaks kicks off a month-long, global campaign to raise awareness of the mysterious condition. To honour the day, many iconic landmarks and businesses participate in Light It Up Blue.
In 2012, an estimated 3,000 structures — the Eiffel Tower and Great Pyramids, among them — were lit blue. More than 4,000 buildings and landmarks are expected to light up Wednesday.
According to the latest data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children were identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Numbers from 2012 reflect a 78-per-cent increase over the past six years in the reported prevalence of the disorder that is roughly five times more common in boys.
As opposed to a disease, autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. Autistics generally have social and communicative challenges, and tend to engage in repetitive behaviours. Wandering children is a frightening reality for parents.
The children’s therapy department at the Comox Valley Childhood Development Association is the first responder for children locally. Most youngsters are on a waiting list about a year before receiving funding.
“Early intervention is critical,” said Courtenay resident Karen Briere, whose four-year-old son Oisín is autistic.
More funding and resources need to be in place for adults with autism, added Briere, noting a drastic drop in funding once a child turns six.
The association relies largely on fundraising.
For more information or to donate, visit CVCDA.ca.