If your commute goes through Buffalo, chances are you've seen a billboard that reads, "sensory sensitivity is a sign of autism." Chances are, as well, you've met or know someone with autism.
A study says 1 in 68 children deal with some degree of the developmental disorder. The series of billboards, put up by Autism Speaks and the Ad Council are trying to spread awareness about some of the indicators.
The CEO of The Summit Center, a non-profit and school that specializes in helping people with autism, says the PSAs are a welcome sight.
“If we can get started early, and we can start with an intensive treatment program, kids get better. So, certainly trying to advise parents what signs and symptoms to look for and if any of those signs exist, get your child tested,” said Stephen Anderson.
Anderson says the billboards highlight one potential sign, but parents should keep their eyes out for other indicators of the disorder.
“The problem may be, if you focus too much on the sensory, you have kids with autism that do not have those sensory sensitivities and there are probably kids without autism that have sensory sensitivities,” added Anderson.
Anderson is also paying attention Sesame Street’s newest character, Julia. Her character has autism. She'll be on the show starting in April, Autism Awareness Month.
“I think in general, it's a good thing. It's really hard to, and they acknowledged it was very hard to portray a person with autism because each individual is so unique in so many ways,” said Anderson.
There is a strong push, in print and on television, to make the general public more aware of autism. Anderson says it simply:
“It's not that they don't like you. It's not that they don't want to talk to you. They just may not know how to do that.”