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franklin county times

Autism workshop set for Friday at MSU-Meridian

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 10, 2002
Mona Fields is a teacher and the mother of a 16-year-old who is autistic and was institutionalized 10 years ago.
She wants other parents of autistic children to know that a better understanding of autism and early intervention for treatment could mean that their children won't have the same outcome.
She and other parents of autistic children plan to attend a workshop on the developmental disorder set for Friday in Kahlmus Auditorium at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.
Dr. Mark H. Yeager, who holds a doctorate in education and is director of the Central Mississippi Residential Center in Newton, is expected to be the program's guest speaker.
Autism is a complex developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life. It affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.
Core features include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe.
Henry Daum, a spokesman for the Mental Health Association in Lauderdale County, said the workshop was scheduled at the request of Meridian Autism Resources and Support.
Daum said a similar program in May met with overwhelming response: "We didn't have enough space for all who wanted to come last time, but the need is clearly there."
He is hopeful another program focusing on information for parents of autistic children will be scheduled this fall.
Fields works as an "inclusion teacher" at Parkview Elementary School, meaning she includes children with various handicaps, including autism, in her regular kindergarten class.
Last year, Fields, along with Lou Ann Henson, also the mother of an autistic child, co-founded the Meridian Autism Resources and Support group.
The group meets the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church.
AUTISM FACTS
What is autism?
Autism is an umbrella term used to describe a number of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Autism is a lifelong
developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life.
It is a neurological disorder that affects brain function.
Autism occurs in about one to six of every 1,000 births.
Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.
It is not known what causes Autism.
What are some symptoms?
Disturbances in the rate of a child's physical, social and language skills.
Abnormal responses to sensations.
Speech and language are absent or delayed while
specific thinking capabilities may be present.
Abnormal ways of relating to people, objects and events.

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