PALMYRA, Mo. (WGEM) -- Health experts estimate autism affects one in every 100 children and tonight one local mother is standing up for her child.
Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate effectively as well as their social interactions with other people, and she fears that puts them in danger in the wrong situations.
Last year Sally White's son was diagnosed with autism. White has heard horror stories about people with autism who were misunderstood by law enforcement and got tased in the process.
She wants to make sure that doesn't happen to her son or anyone else.
When five-year-old Shaun White was diagnosed with autism last year, Sally made it her mission in life to raise awareness about the disease.
White says many of us don't know how to approach autistic people and she's heard terrifying stories of what could happen to them.
"A lot of them don't speak or make eye contact or they're not going to tell the police officer what's the matter with them and when they're approached they're going to get upset maybe smack their ears and scream and holler," said White.
As part of White's quest to raise awareness, she partnered with Touch Point Autism Services to bring in a speaker to teach the community how to communicate with autistic people.
The speaker, Aaron Likens has Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.
Likens' message? no two people with autism are alike.
"One person can have horrible sensory issues to one certain type of noise and the next person that might be their favorite type of noise," said Likens.
That's one reason its so important for law enforcement and emergency responders to learn the signs of autism. Many of those officials attended the event.
"They have to be dealt with differently than a normal individual and the bottom line is to effectively secure the area that we're in and for everyone to be safe ad go home in a safe manner," said Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn.
White says she will continue her efforts to educate the community.
"I'm a mother that likes to get things done and I'll do whatever I can to help him," said White.
White says her goal is to one day find a way for autistic people to be easily recognized by law enforcement and emergency responders such as creating an identification bracelet everyone with autism would wear.
For more information on autism and on the services Touch Point offers families affected by autism visit http://www.touchpointautism.org/
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