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Commission marks Autism Awareness Day
Pilot Club holding autism awareness workshop April 7
new deh county commission autism sidebar pic
The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a proclamation marking Autism Awareness Day at the request of the Great Bend Pilot Club. Pictured are Pilot members Joyce Fry, Sharon Mauler, Betty Schneider, Renee Johnson, Sally OConnor, Marcia Johnson and Janice Walker, who attended the commission meeting. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Noting that autism is a prevalent condition affecting people of all walks of life, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a joint proclamation with the City of Great Bend recognizing Monday as the 11th annual World Autism Awareness Day 2018. Great Bend Mayor Joe Andrasek signed the proclamation last week.

World Autism Awareness Day is recognized on Monday by presidential proclamation in the United States of America, said Sally O’Connor, chairman of the Autism Committee for the Great Bend Pilot Club. “With autism spectrum disorders affecting an estimated one out of every 68 children in America, this Proclamation calls upon all Americans to learn more about the signs of autism to improve early diagnosis, understand the challenges faced by those with autism spectrum disorders and to support individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.”

“Individuals and families living with autism come from diverse backgrounds,” the proclamation reads. “These families face enormous challenges in assisting their loved ones over the course of their lifetimes.”

“The Proclamation is to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism,” O’Connor said. The awareness day kicks off Autism Awareness Month.

Spreading the word

To help increase awareness of this condition, O’Connor said the club is sponsoring the Autism Spectrum Disorder Workshop set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at Barton Community College in the Fine Arts Building. 

The day-long event will include speakers such as noted autism expert Dr. Jim Ball, a New Jersey behavioral analyst who has written this topic and spoken on it around the world.

There will be other speakers and breakout sessions, she said. “It will be a full day with a lot going on.”

With few autism educational choices available in western Kansas, O’Connor said this is a good opportunity. The event is open to the public. Teachers and families in Kansas, and especially western Kansas, affected by autism are encouraged to attend.

Attendees can sign up for this workshop through the Pilot Club’s web site at or, or print the registration form and mail it to Great Bend Pilot Club, PO Box 503, Great Bend, KS 67530.

The costs to attend are $55 for professionals and $25 for families, students and day-care providers. Registration and admission can still be taken at the door the day of the workshop.

ASDs are neurological and developmental disorders that begin early in childhood and last throughout a person’s life. They affect how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders.

“The Pilot Club has a grand history of helping with brain health and brain health-related awareness,” she said. This is in keeping with that mission.

“Autism is a prevalent difficulty,” she said. But, great strides have been made in terms of helping those with the condition.