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Local School Shines Light on World Autism Awareness Day

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. Gulf Coast School for Autism hosted its ‘Light It Up Blue event on Sunday.

The event is all about spreading awareness on Autism Awareness Day.

“We have arts programs that are able to show our student’s abilities like today, where our students are going to get on stage and perform for ‘Light It Up Blue’, they’re going to sing “This Little Light of Mine” and the Light It Up Blue theme song so it’s really cool, through our arts, programs, what we’re able to show the community the abilities of our students,” behavior analyst and vice president of Gulf Coast School for Autism Kuryn Wheeler said.

This year 15 students took the stage to showcase their talents. Some performed for the first time, others are professionals.

“This is a new environment, I’m in front of a lot of people, I have to go and perform this skill but by year two or three, they’re like, oh, I got this, no big deal,” Wheeler said. “So it’s really neat to showcase their growth throughout the years to show this is an awesome day, not only for our students but for individuals diagnosed with autism around the world, because we’re showing communities, hey, we’re here,” Wheeler said.

Administrators said showing out for the Autism community is more important now than ever before.

“The CDC stat just came out, one in 36 children are going to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Wheeler said. “It’s here. It’s in our community and we’ve got to be a light. We’ve got to show parents what resources are available and what these kids are capable of doing.”

Gulf Coast School for Autism provides countless resources.

“We’re really there for every developmental milestone throughout the children’s lives, our school focuses on using the principles of applied behavior analysis through our teaching, which is really important because it’s a systematic way of breaking learning down where students can understand it,” Wheeler said.

The entire month of April is recognized as Autism Awareness month.

“Be a light for these kids, they need us, these individuals, not just kids within society, they need the volunteers, they need the support, they need love so be a light,” Wheeler said.

Source: My Panhandle