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Autism Awareness Month in Wayne

Wayne City Clerk Tina Parnell with her grandson Mark.

By Sarah Shurge – On Tuesday, April 2nd, Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa signed an Autism Awareness Proclamation, on behalf of the City Council and the citizens of Wayne, to hereby proclaim the month of April 2024 as Autism Awareness Month in the City of Wayne and encourage all Wayne Citizens to look beyond autism and see someone special.
The Autism Awareness Proclamation, states the following:
Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
There is not just one type of autism, but many. Autism looks different for everyone, and each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some autistic people can speak, while others are nonverbal or minimally verbal and communicate in other ways. Some require significant support in their daily lives, while others need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
On average, autism is diagnosed around age 5 in the US, with signs appearing by age 2 or 3. Among the most common co-occuring conditions are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, and sleep disorders. Anybody can be autistic; however, research shows that boys get diagnosed with autism four times more often than girls.
Living with a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder affects the entire family. Meeting the complex needs of a person with autism can put families under a great deal of stress – emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical.
Autism is a lifelong condition and an autistic person’s needs, strengths, and challenges may change over time. As they transition through life stages, they may need different types of support and accommodations.


Early intervention and therapies can make a big difference in a person’s skills and outcome later in life.
Children and adults with autism need growth in community inclusion. It is important to remember that young children with autism grow into young adults with autism. The need for inclusion does not stop after high school – it is a lifetime goal for everyone.
The community can help by being supportive and bringing awareness to the challenges a person with autism and their family experience, making room in our hearts and suspending judgment for persons who may seem different. Because what makes you different, does not make you less. Together, we can work toward bringing hope to reality.
During the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd, Wayne City Clerk Tina Parnell spoke about her own personal experience of autism within her family.
“I just want to say this subject is very dear to me as I have a grandson who is autistic,” said Parnell. “I, like a lot of people, knew nothing about autism. Was never around it, I just simply didn’t understand it.”
Parnell’s grandson, Mark, was diagnosed with autism in October 2023.
“His biggest challenge is that he’s nonverbal, and I know the biggest challenge to Andrea [Parnell’s daughter and Mark’s mom] and my son-in-law Jonathon is that they feel isolation quite often because it’s scary for them to take Mark out into the world where a lot of people just don’t understand what he’s going through or what he experiences,” said Parnell.
Parnell shared that Mark goes to therapy and is making improvements (with eye contact and saying a word ever so often).
“It’s not a negative thing. That’s the biggest thing about autism, it’s not negative,” said Andrea Carpenter, Mark’s mom.
So for the month of April, in honor of Autism Awareness Month in the City of Wayne, be sure to be kind, look beyond autism, and see someone special.

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