Local center calls for acceptance, not just awareness for those on autism spectrum

April 2 marks World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and while it has been tough for those on the spectrum, they have found ways to adapt.

ROANOKE, Va. – For many children on the autism spectrum, routine is everything.

At Virginia Autism & Behavior Consulting, employees work with kids 18 months to 21 years old and provide applied behavioral analysis therapy to improve communication, behavioral and social skills.

Administrative Supervisor Erin Tucker said the center had to close for about three weeks when COVID-19 first hit, flipping that routine upside down.

“It was definitely tough. We were really worried that we wouldn’t be able to provide these services for a minute there. We weren’t sure what we were going to do,” said Tucker.

Executive Director Chrissy Jones said behavioral technicians were still able to go to clients’ homes, but there’s nothing like the in-person support provided at the center.

Since reopening, they’ve been wearing masks and limiting cross-contamination between employees and various families.

“They do still get to have some group activities and those social opportunities, which are huge especially when we’re not getting them in other areas of your life too,” said Jones.

Tucker said that kids are resilient, and she’s proud of how their kids have adapted.

“For us to be able to provide that sense of normalcy, this space stays as much the same as possible, it’s so so important for them and their families,” said Tucker.

Tucker added that no child is the same.

“They’re unique individuals and they all have their own set of special skills and smiles that they bring into this place every day,”

On World Autism Awareness Day, they’re hoping not just for awareness, but acceptance.

“It’s kind of a topic of awareness vs. acceptance. I think that we really want to focus on both here,” said Jones.

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