ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ)– Altoona mayor Matt Pacifico issued a proclamation at Monday evening’s City Council meeting, recognizing April as National Autism Awareness Month.
Joining Pacifico on March 13 and giving his remarks was city council member Joe Carper.
“One in forty-four children in the United States is diagnosed with autism,” Carper said. “So, making people aware of symptoms and signs and of the resources that are available is just super important as we learn more about it moving forward.”
Carper’s family has had their own struggles with autism after his son was diagnosed.
“We’ve been working with therapists, many, many therapists,” Carper said. “He had a developmental appointment in Pittsburgh today. And that’s the unfortunate reality for parents in this area who have a diagnosis.”
His son was able to be diagnosed at the age of three, qualifying them for early intervention therapy. Carper says that it has already helped his son improve.
“Early intervention services are available,” Carper said. “Unfortunately, they’re not as available as we would like to see in rural central Pennsylvania. That’s probably one of the most important things, one of the most important reasons to have the proclamation that we had tonight.”
Other council members suggested that they look into improving access to those services in the future, but Carper says that understanding is just as important. He gave an example saying that everyone should be considerate when seeing a child have a meltdown in public and not judge them or their parents.
“Be kind, that’s the easiest way to say it,” Carper said. “There’s nothing he can do about it. That’s the way that he expresses his emotion. Imagine feeling every feeling in the world all at the same time.”
During the Monday council meeting the members also approved several resolutions, giving construction and improvement contracts totaling over $911,000 from the American Rescue Plan funds. The projects include storm water drainage projects and the installation of handicap accessible ramps.