Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore lit up in blue. New blue lights shine on downtown buildings—all in an effort to fight back against the growing number of cases of autism.
Kai Jackson explains this is the first time the city has done this.
One in every 110 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. For the next month, the city of Baltimore and the Kennedy Krieger Institute are teaming up to fight it.
On a chilly spring night, a handful of families affected by autism and a few city leaders gather to bring awareness to a problem that affects 1.5 million people nationwide.
“Autism is one of the nation’s fastest growing developmental disorders,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Autism is a developmental brain disorder that affects more children than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.
That’s why City Hall is bathed in blue to bring awareness and education to a pervasive problem.
Ayanna Spears, 27, was diagnosed with autism as an infant.
“I’m just blessed that she’s happy, she’s healthy,” said Sandra Spears, Ayanna’s mother. “She has every opportunity to a good life as every other citizen.”
For the entire month of April, the dome of City Hall will remain blue to put the spotlight on autism awareness.
“If you have warning signs, check it out. Don’t delay,” said Teri Chason, parent. “Call you doctor, call your professionals.”
In recent years, certain vaccines were being blamed for causing autism. Researchers now say there’s no science to back it up.
Baltimore’s world-renowned Kennedy Krieger Institute says early detection is the best medicine.
“We have a very aggressive early intervention program,” said Dr. Gary Goldstein, Kennedy Krieger CEO. “Everyone agrees that very early interventions make a difference.”
Scientists say there is no definitive reason why autism occurs, and right now, unfortunately, there is no known cure.
Some 1,000 buildings worldwide are lit blue for Autism Awareness Month.