Light it Up Blue--April is World Autism Month


The world goes “Blue” in April for World Autism Month. Several businesses as well as Middlesboro ARH Hospital, Middlesboro-Bell County Public Library, the Middlesboro Fire Department, the Middlesboro Police Department and Bell Theatre are participating in World Autism Month.

“We are so excited that so many people in Bell County want to participate in World Autism Month,” stated Margaret Earls, autism advocate. “As many of you know, my son Devin is autistic, and we have learned so much about autism spectrum disorders during our 20-year journey.”

Earls shared an important resource,, which families will find helpful. In fact, the website updates families on ongoing research. Recently, research confirmed that appropriate screening can determine whether a child is at risk for autism as young as one year. While every child develops differently, early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically. Studies show, for example, that early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders.


According to Autism Speaks, one of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. The following "red flags" may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

“I encourage parents and grandparents to be very observant as their babies develop and to look for any early signs of autism,” Earls added.  “Early treatment for an autism spectrum disorder can make a real difference in your child’s quality of life.”

Several Middlesboro businesses and organizations are participating in autism awareness activities.

  • Friday, April 7 at 3 p.m., the Middlesboro Fire Department will hold a meet & greet with Fire Pup and offer a tour of the Fire Station, rides for kids and their families and free pizza and drinks. 
  • Saturday, April 8 at 3 p.m., the Middlesboro Police Department will hold a meet & greet and a tour of the Police Station.
  • Saturday, April 15 at 3 p.m., Bell Theatre will offer a free movie to children and their families. 
  • Wednesday, April 19 at 4 p.m., Middlesboro ARH Hospital will partner with the Middlesboro-Bell County Public Library for a “Special Storytime,” complete with blue balloons and snacks. Caitlin Jeffrey, Children’s and Youth Services Librarian and Middlesboro ARH Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Jessica Helton, who specializes in family medicine, will read to the children.
  • Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Belk Department Store in the Middlesboro Mall will hold a Charity Sale.  All ticket sales ($5 per ticket) are 100 percent donated to Autism research.

For more information about Autism awareness activities, contact Autism Advocate Margaret Earls at 606.248.0950.

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