By Steve Svetovich
The 13th annual Autism Awareness a Night was held this past April 28 at the 20th Ward Banquet Hall, Scranton, And once again Dunmore’s Gary and Lynne Duncan were there to volunteer their time.
Gary Duncan is head of Dunmore’s Neighborhood Crime Watch program and is an occupational therapist for Traditional Home Health, Dunmore. His wife Lynne is a speech therapist for Allied Services, Scranton, and has years of experience working with the autistic population and special needs children.
“This event is always for a good cause,” she said. “We are very happy to be here.”
Gary’s involvement was quite evident as he took the time to walk around, shake hands and talk to those attending the yearly event.
The Dunmore couple volunteer yearly at the event and cherish their time there.
The Duncan couple’s high regard for the Autism Awareness Night is evident in their demeanor while greeting those in attendance.
“I don’t even have to think twice about coming here,” Gary Duncan said. “It’s a no brainer.”
The annual event is sponsored by the Minooka Lions Club. Several hundred attended.
A variety of delicious hot food, water, soda, coffee, pastries and deserts all buffet style were served to those who attended.
Al Dorunda, Jr., is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Minooka Lions Autism Awareness Foundation. Joe Castaldi is treasurer. Rita Castaldi is vice chairman.
Autism and autism spectrum disorder are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.
These disorders are characterized in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified and Asperger syndrome.
Asperger syndrome can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with Aspergers excel in visual skills, music, math and art. Some are at a genius level in these areas.
Autism has its roots in early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age.
Some infants and toddlers begin to develop normally until the second year of life, when they lose skills and develop or are diagnosed with autism. It is a pattern called regression.
Autism Speaks funds research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.
Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which families and volunteers play a valuable role.
Autism now affects one in 68 children and one in 42 boys.
Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the country.
There is no medical detection or cure for autism.
Parents Loving Children Through Autism Foundation is located at 1243 Wyoming Ave., third floor, Scranton. The contact number is 570-341-3388.
Autism costs a family an average of $60,000 per year and receives less than five percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases.
There needs to be more people like Dunmore’s Gary and Lynne Duncan to help.
Autism prevalence figures continue to grow.
And the children diagnosed with autism later become adults with autism. The adults need advocates too.
Funding is just one of the many concerns.
There needs to be more help.
That’s a no brainer.