‘Light it up Blue’ celebrates autism awareness, acceptance on April 2

UMass Medical School Communications

March 27, 2014

The Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Child Psychiatry is celebrating International Autism Awareness Day on April 2 with a musical celebration of autism awareness and acceptance at UMass Medical School’s Worcester campus.

Parents, children, friends, community members and professionals will come together with music, dancing and light refreshments, with live entertainment by the BayRd Band and DJ Gregg Engvall. The event will also feature a services providers fair.

A brief formal program will include a presentation about the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) at UMMS (see sidebar).

The evening will conclude with a ceremony in which the front of the Sherman Center will be illuminated with blue lights as part of the international Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue observation.

Free and open to the public, the celebration will take place Wednesday, April 2, on the first floor of the Albert Sherman Center at UMass Medical School. The providers fair will run from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and the CANDO presentation will be made at 5:30 p.m., followed by entertainment, dancing and refreshments. The lighting ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m.

RSVPs are requested at www.autismresourcecentral.org.

What is CANDO?

CANDO is the first and only integrated comprehensive early intervention program in Central Massachusetts for children ages 3 to 13 years old with autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders. It was launched in June 2013 to address the rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, which now touches one in 68 children.

A joint effort of UMMS and UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinic provides a single point of entry for comprehensive evaluations and integrated, interdisciplinary short-term treatment. A care team comprising a child psychiatrist, pediatric neurologist, occupational and speech therapist, and family resource specialist coordinate efforts with a focus on stabilization and establishing bridges to community and school providers.

CANDO also supports research by basic and clinical scientists to better understand autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and translate that knowledge into treatment and care for patients and their families.

“Our long-term plan is to provide a permanent integrated clinical, research and teaching clinic for patients with autism spectrum disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders across the lifespan,” said Jean Frazier, MD, the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, and medical director of CANDO. “Launching the CANDO clinic was the first step.”

Related links on UMassMedNow:
As autism rate soars, early intervention urged
Winter Ball fundraiser spotlights CANDO Clinic