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World Autism Day raises awareness

10:31 AM, Apr 2, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida --  Did you take notice of the SunTrust building in downtown Tampa this morning as you made your way to work?

The top was lit up in a shade of blue in recognition of World Autism Day today.

This year marks the fifth year the day has been recognized around the world.  It's goal is to raise awareness and funds for research and treatment. 

It's estimated tens of millions of people suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released new numbers showing 1 in 88 children in the United States have been diagnoses with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (based on research from 2008).  This is a 78% increase over the previous five years and a 1,000% increase over the last four decades.

Medical experts say this is due to better recognition, greater awareness and the inclusion of milder cases.

Early intervention is important in treating autism.  The CDC says a child will often display symptoms during the first few years of life and will sometimes show hints of the disorder during the first few months of life.

In Tampa Bay, advocates will continue to work to spread awareness by hosting the 'Walk Now for Autism Speaks' will be held on Saturday, April 21.  The family-friendly event is being hosted by Raymond James Stadium.

Arts for Autism's Artistas Cafe at Mercedes-Benz of Tampa is also celebrating by offering the 'Lightning Blue Blitz', a frozen frappe with blueberries.  Artistas Cafe is a non-profit gourmet coffee shop that trains and employs young adults with autism.

The blue also recognizes the Tampa Bay Lightning's support for the cause.  The cafe's founder, Vicky Westra, was recently named a Lightning Community Hero and awarded $50,000 which is going back into the the cause. 

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