April is Autism Awareness Month in Suffield and in Connecticut through proclamations made by the Suffield Board of Selectmen and the Connecticut General Assembly.
Local autism awareness advocates attended the selectmen's meeting, where one Suffield family was presented with copies of the proclimations made by the town and the state. A local firefighter also told attendees of a plan to educate first responders from Suffield and the surrounding area about safe rescue and emergency procedures for people with autism spectrum disorders.
Melissa Sullivan, a Suffield resident and autism advocate, accepted copies of the the proclamations from First Selectman Ed McAnaney and State Rep. Elaine O'Brien. This is the third annual set of proclimations from the town and state.
"It's a nice way to start the month and feel supported," Sullivan said.
She noted that the condition is diagnosed, on average, in one of every 88 children and one of every 54 boys. Sullivan also expressed appreciation for the recognition from the town and state.
The town's proclamation mentioned the growing incidence of autism, with approximately 1.5 million people diagnosed with the condition in the US, the effects it has on families and communities and how proper care and understanding allows people with autism to lead distinguished, productive lives.
Suffield Board of Education member Jeannie Gee was in attendance to voice support from that board for the members of the Suffield community who are affected by autism. Gee thanked them for their efforts raising awareness and teaching others about autism. O'Brien also gave her best wishes to the advocates in attendance.
Suffield volunteer firefighter Richard Leach spoke about a training session for area first responders on proper rescue techniques. Leach, also a professional firefighter in East Hartford, had previously received the training with his department. He noted unique concerns that first responers have to recognize when assisting people with autism in emergency situations.