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April 2021

Pecan Grove monthly

A publication of the


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Contents and Staff April 2021

Pecan Grove

monthly™

CHAIRMAN, EDITOR & PUBLISHER Clyde King cking@hartmannews.com

6 FEATURE STORY

ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR Marquita Griffin mgriffin@fbherald.com

Chris Mullen said there is no where he won’t go to promote his first novel or

6

ADVERTISING Stefanie Bartlett sbartlett@fbherald.com

inspire children.

Ruby Polichino ruby@fbherald.com

8 IN THE SPOTLIGHT

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Melinda Maya mmaya@fbherald.com

Even during a pandemic Annabelle’s Amazing

Rachel Cavazos rcavazos@fbherald.com

Graces, founded by Daniel and Shelley van Deursen, continued its efforts to support

8

GNAO1 mutation research.

10 TALK OF THE TOWN A partnership between the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department and the Houston Human Society provides free pet food to county residents.

10

WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS Scott Reese Willey Averil Gleason Ryan Dunsmore

12 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

TO ADVERTISE If you are interested in advertising in the Pecan Grove Monthly, please call 281-342-4474 for rates, information and deadlines. PHOTO & ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS We are looking for fresh story ideas and enjoy publishing your articles in the Pecan Grove Monthly. If you have an story idea or photo to publish please send your information to mgriffin@fbherald.com with “Pecan Grove Monthly” in the subject line. © 2021 Pecan Grove Monthly. All Rights Reserved. Pecan Grove Monthly is a sister publication of Fulshear Living Monthly, Greatwood Monthly, West Fort Bend Living and is a publication of the Fort Bend Herald. Our publishing headquarters is 1902 S. Fourth Street, Rosenberg Texas 77471.

Entries are wanted for a Texas Juried Exhibition and a local poetry slam competition.

March 2021

Peca n Grove monthly

20 HEALTH

12

4 • Pecan Grove Monthly

Recognizing the myths and misconceptions about autism spectrum

‘Racing With The Tide’

Like Us On Facebook @fortbendherald

The story of

‘Clemmie’

continues in Bili Morrow Shelburne’s long-awaited sequel

A publication of the

disorder. Tell us how we’re doing! Email: mgriffin@fbherald.com


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Feature Story 6 • Pecan Grove Monthly

by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | mgriffin@fbherald.com


Visit chrismullenwrites. com for more information about Chris Mullen and his works. Chris Mullen with Landon Klepzig, the Brazosport student who won Mullen's Creative Writing contest. Klepzig's work, "The Dungeon," will appear on Mullen's website.

Chris' "Rowdy" novel on the shelves of Chris during his first in-person author the Bluewillow Bookstore. visit. To advertise, call 281-342-4474

•7


In the Spotlight Follow Annabelle's Amazing Graces annabellesamazinggraces.org

8 • Pecan Grove Monthly

FOLLOW THE BOW FOUNDATION gnao1.org


Photo by by Laura Giesen Photography | The van Deursen children, from left, James, Annabelle and Matthew. On page 8 are the children with their parents Daniel and Shelley.

The Van Deursen family with participants of the 2020 Annabelle's Amazing Graces fundraiser.

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Talk of the Town

Houston Humane Society partners with Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department by AVERIL GLEASON | agleason@fbherald.com

W

hen Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan was running for office, he expressed a clear vision for the future of animals in the area. So partnering with the Houston Humane Society to hand out free pet food to county residents was a no-brainer. One Saturday morning in early March, dozens of cars lined up outside of Gus George Law Enforcement Academy to receive pet food, toys and treats. “We’re working with sheriffs, DA’s and constables across the area to give out free pet food for pet owners in need all over the region,” Katie Fine with the Houston Humane Society explained.“Before the pandemic, we learned people’s pets are going hungry.We realized that there was a need for pet food banks.And then when the pandemic hit, and more recently, the freeze, the need was extremely high.” Fine explained that by giving away free pet food, it relieves the burden of extra spending on households.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department partnered with the Houston Humane Society over the March 6 weekend, when 6,000 pounds of pet food were given to families across Fort Bend. Pictured is Animal Cruelty Investigator Jordan Kelley, Sheriff Eric Fagan and Houston Humane Society Executive Director Gary Poon.

Set up outside the law enforcement academy was more than 6,000 pounds of food. According to Fine, people started lining up over an hour before the event began at 10 a.m. “This was mutually beneficial,” Fagan said.“My kids, when they were small, volunteered at the humane society. When I became sheriff, I reached out and they were nice enough to collaborate with us.” Fagan said when he was running for office, he realized there was a need for pet safety. Just months after winning the election in November, Fagan appointed Jordan Kelley as animal cruelty investigator, the first of its kind. “The great thing is the humane society is offering this to anyone in need,”Fagan continued.“They’re working with law enforcement handin-hand to help the people of Fort Bend County.” The Houston Humane Society is dedicated to ending cruelty, abuse and the overpopulation of animals while providing the highest quality of life to those in our care. For more information, call 713-433-6421.

SGARDENING

TIPST

How to treat our landscaping after the Big Freeze

by CHRIS TAYLOR | Fort Bend County Master Gardener

F

ebruary’s Arctic blast was one for the books! All of us were cold – both in our homes and outside. We are now in recovery mode and working hard to fix any freeze-related home damage. Included in that damage assessment is the damage dealt to our landscaping. In many ways, our landscaping suffered from very low temperatures and even lower wind-chill temperatures. Our first thoughts may be to start pruning back the dead foliage on our plants and trees. But we should wait before starting to prune our shrubs and plants! I know that in my yard, the damaged plants and shrubs look bad. For example, the shrubs here in southeast Texas are usually able to handle the normal cold temperatures that we get each year and don’t show much stress. However, in most of the shrubs that I have seen, the leaves are brown and looked like they are “wind-burned”. In fact, they are wind-burned from the strong north wind that we received. Included are three photos from my landscaping.As you can see in all three (sadly there are more) suffered. Since the Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant, it is not surprising that it received

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d a m a g e . H o w e v e r, t h e boxwoods are very hardy and rarely show stress. As you can see in the photo, the yellowed leaves on the boxwood show the extent of the damage. The orange tree has sustained damage as well as indicated by the drooping, brown leaves. Why wait to prune? We need to wait before we start to prune back any dead foliage. There is a short write-up on the Fort Bend Master Gardeners

website (www.fbmg.org) with this advice. As well, the website has further information as well as a link on how to correctly prune once that time comes. Larry Stein, Texas A&M Horticulturist, has a short video on the Aggie Horticulture Facebook page entitled, “What’s Growing on with Freeze Damage” (www.facebook.com/AggieHorticulture-26803072143). He recommends that we all wait at least two weeks before deciding where to start our pruning. We want to wait and see if the plants start to put out new leaves. If so, they are coming back and you probably do not want to prune that particular branch. As Larry recommends, “hurry up and wait, and, learn to love ugly” — at least for a while. Uncover your plants For the plants and trees that you had covered or wrapped during the freeze, remember to uncover them. They need exposure to sunlight. They may have foliage or limbs that droop after having been covered. Mostly what they need right now is some time to rebound from the shock of the cold weather. Sprinkler/Irrigation System Given that many of us have broken water pipes in our homes, it is very possible that we also have broken pipes outside. One area to check is the sprinkler/irrigation system that you use to water your yard. Areas that can break are the pipes above the ground that surround the backflow valve. You probably have these pipes wrapped, but you may want to consider unwrapping them and checking for any leaks. Also, repairs done on the main water lines to our homes may have brought debris in the water that may clog the sprinkler heads or valves. It is recommendable to hire a local licensed irrigator to evaluate your system before turning it back on for spring.

Continued on page 17

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• 11


Art & Entertainment

CELEBRATE NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH POETRY-PERFORMANCE ARTIST DEBORAH D.E.E.P MOUTON

I

n recognition of National Poetry Month in April, Fort Bend County Libraries will present a special online “Author Spotlight” event, featuring internationally recognized poetry-performance artist Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton, on Saturday,April 10, beginning at 2 pm. This event will be live-streamed via Webex; it will not be in person. Hear about Mouton’s journey to having her works published, challenges she has faced along the way, and the inspiration behind her passion for writing and performing. Viewers will have an opportunity to submit questions and ask about her work and her experiences. An internationally-known writer, educator, activist, and performer, Mouton is a Poet Laureate Emeritus of Houston. Formerly ranked the #2 best female performance poet in the world, Mouton has established herself as a notable force in the performance- and slam-poetry world. Her work has appeared in Houston Noir, The BreakBeat Poets Black Girl Magic, the Texas Observer, and Fjords Journal, and on platforms such as NPR, BBC, ABC, Apple News, Blavity, Upworthy, and across the TedX circuit. This event was previously scheduled in February, but was postponed because of the winter storm. This online event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required; a link to the Webex sessions will be emailed to all who register. To register online at the library’s website (www. fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the program on the scheduled date. For more information, call FBCL’s Communications Office at 281-633-4734.

CHILDREN’S MUSIC CLASS IN THE PARK

O

n Thursday, April 22 from 10 - 10:45 p.m. the Vivaldi Music Academy is encouraging families with children (1-5 years old) to join them in the Sugar Land Town Square Plaza for a free, fun morning full of singing and dancing in designated areas of the plaza arranged by lawn rugs. The instructor will be guide families through a fun variety of early childhood activities. No instruments will be used at this time to help prevent the spread of germs. Adult attendees will be required to wear a mask at all times during the event.

12 • Pecan Grove Monthly

CALL FOR ARTISTS: 8TH ANNUAL TEXAS JURIED EXHIBITION

A

rtspace111 announced an open call for submissions for the 8th annual Artspace111 Texas Juried Exhibition, juried by Caleb Bell, the curator at the Tyler Museum of Art. The competition includes eligibility for 2D and 3D artwork.The exhibition will be open from July 10 through Aug. 28 with an opening reception on July 17. The due date for entries is Monday, May 24. Contemporary 2D and 3D works that follow the requirements detailed in the prospectus are eligible for acceptance.Artwork selected by the juror from the eligible submissions will be included in the Texas Juried Exhibition at Artspace111 and are eligible for cash awards.A total of $5,000 will be awarded, and the “Best In Show” prize will include a cash award of $2,000 and the opportunity to exhibit at Artspace111 in a separate solo or group exhibition in 2021-2022. All entrants will have the option to be included in the Texas Now Online Showcase 2021 following the 8th Texas Juried Exhibition.After a successful pilot program,Artspace111 will include all entrants to the juried exhibition in an online showcase where the artwork can be collected online by Texas art collectors. For more information visit artspace111.com.

WANTED: ENTRIES FOR LIVE-STREAMED ‘DARE TO HOPE’ POETRY SLAM

F

ort Bend County Libraries is hosting an online Poetry Slam Competition for teens and young adults. The theme for the competition is “Dare to Hope.” Entries may be submitted online April 5 through May 3. The livestreamed performance-poetry competition will take place on Saturday, May 8 at 2 pm. Students who are 14 to 20 years of age are invited to compete for prizes in this performance-poetry event by reading original works they have created themselves. To participate in the competition, contestants should complete an online entry form on FBCL’s website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us) and upload copies of three original poems they wish to read for the competition. One poem will be read for each round to which the participant advances. There will be two qualifying rounds and one final round. A panel of five judges will determine which competitors advance to the second round and the final round.The order of performances will be randomly chosen on May 8 at the start of the event. Judging will be based on language, idea, theme, tone, mood, vocal strength, emotion, body/facial movement, and fluency. Each poem must be limited to no longer than 3 minutes and 10 seconds in length. Poets may read from a copy of their poem, but they


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• 13


may not use props, costumes, or musical instruments. Poems must be family-friendly and may not include any profanity or sexually explicit content. Poems containing incendiary, offensive, discriminatory, or inflammatory language will be disqualified. Participants who submit poems online during the entry period will be sent a link for the Webex session for the competition. Submissions will not be accepted after 5:00 pm on May 3. Prizes will be awarded to the top three competitors. Sponsored by the Friends of the George Memorial Library, the Poetry Slam is free and open to the public. For more information, call 281-633-4734.

LOCAL LIBRARIES OFFER FREE ONLINE PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN

B

ecause of the COVID-19 social-distancing recommendations, Fort Bend County Libraries is continuing to offer children’s programming virtually, so families can participate from the comfort and safety of home Videos of Mother Goose Time,Toddler Time, Preschool Story Time, After-School Breaks, and Middle School Programs will be posted on the online Virtual calendar on FBCL’s website each week. Several special online Family Programs, for children of all ages, will also be featured in April. Age-appropriate stories, songs, and puppet shows are featured in the Mother Goose Time, Toddler Time, and Preschool Story Time videos.The schedule is as follows: Tuesdays: Mother Goose Time (infants 1-12 months of age) Wednesdays: Toddler Time (1-3 years of age) Thursdays: Preschool Story Time (3-6 years of age) Families of toddlers and preschoolers may pick up to-go activity packets from the library for the month. These packets contain fun craft activities that can be done at home. Call the libraries to request to pick up the packets through the Curbside Pick-Up service. The After-School Breaks – which take place on the second and fourth Mondays – include crafts, stories, and more for school-aged children in grades K through 5.The schedule for April is as follows: April 12: Rainbow Fizzy Bath Bombs. Make your own DIY fizzy bath bombs. April 26: Coffee-Filter Flowers. Try this easy experiment using coffee filters and water to see if markers have any hidden colors in them! Then discover how to turn those colorful coffee filters into DIY flowers for Mother’s Day! The Middle School Programs – which take place on the first and

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third Mondays -- include activities specially designed for kids in grades 6 through 8.The schedule for April is as follows: April 5: Make Your Own Fan! April 19: Drawing Class: Bat Girl. SPECIAL FAMILY VIRTUAL EVENTS April 3: “Sleeping Beauty” Marionette Performance (pre-recorded video) Master puppeteer Jean Kuecher, producer of Marionette Playhouse, will entertain with her beautifully handcrafted marionettes on an elaborate stage, with music and lighting. In this puppet show, the Good Fairy helps the Handsome Prince battle the Wicked Witch’s dragon, but then the prince can’t remember how to awaken the Princess Sleeping Beauty! After the performance, learn some of the backstage secrets and special effects. Recommended for families with children of all ages, this virtual performance is presented in conjunction with Young Audiences of Houston. April 10:“Give Me a Reaction – Science Experiments” (prerecorded video) In three STEAM experiments, discover the best way to clean old pennies, how to make foamy playdough, and why Ivory soap floats. This program is recommended for families with children of all ages. April 17:“Will Parker’s Children’s Concert” (pre-recorded video) Recommended for families with children of all ages, this virtual performance is made possible by the Friends of First Colony Branch Library. April 17:“Everybody is Smart! Music Performance by JAWAD” (pre-recorded video). This performance inspires young learners to feel empowered and embrace expression through music, art, singing, and character creation. Recommended for families with children of all ages, this virtual performance is presented in conjunction with Young Audiences of Houston. April 24 :“Preschool Story Lab:Vehicles” (pre-recorded video) The Preschool Story Lab is a creative storytime event that encourages children to discover and explore concepts in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). FBCL’s children’s librarians will read books, sing songs, and demonstrate a variety of STEAM activities that can be done with simple supplies found around the home. For more information visit www.fortbend.lib.tx.us or call 281633-4734.


To advertise, call 281-342-4474

• 15


Business Buzz

Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring Embodies The Golden Rule by MARQUITA GRIFFIN | mgriffin@fbherald.com

R

osenberg Carpet & Flooring will continue to stand the test of time if the past six-plus decades are any indication. 1958 was the year when Tony and Hope Lopez planted their eyes firmly on their future and stepped toward their family’s legacy. The family-owned and operated business has withstood significant tests and trials, the most recent being the current COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the hardships, Tony and Hope’s son, Michael, who is running the family business, projects a message of hope, not of fear or bitterness. No matter the harsh blows, Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring will continue its commitment to the community, Lopez stressed. Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring has long provided sales and installation of carpet, sheet vinyl, laminate countertops (Formica), wood flooring, wallpaper, and draperies, but this year, it expanded its services and products, adding shower, bath, and kitchen remodeling services to its repertoire. “We do more than floors,” Lopez said. “We do all types of countertops, backsplashes, shower, and bath remodels as well as interior reconfiguration. Our vision is to become a one-stop-shop. A new decade has begun with the third generation of our family. Our son and his wife, Joshua and Ruby Lopez, with the help of Amador Olvera, Chris Frazier, Lorne Darlin, Francisco Gomez, and some of the best installers in the business are here to work for our clients. “It seems like a fresh new start,” Lopez continued.“This young generation has so much knowledge, so many ideas, and compassion to share all that they have. Everyone has to start somewhere or re-start somewhere. We believe with our experiences and dedication to serving, that we are going to see our customers more than satisfied.” In this exclusive interview, Lopez discusses the history of his family’s company, and just what inspired the company slogan and business philosophy.

Michael Lopez: My father Tony Lopez began as a floor covering installer. A sales manager he worked under always had him calculate customer’s floor plans for him. My father thought to himself: ‘I know this business from installation to configuring all projects.’ Looking ahead to the future, and for the sake of his family, they became his motivation. With my faithful mother Hope, they set out to begin their dream. MG: Has the business always been located at 1006 1st St. in Rosenberg? ML: Our business started out of our home.We then moved into a location near the then-Texas Grill Restaurant. In 1975, we moved to our current location at 1006 1st St.

Marquita Griffin: What motivated your parents, Tony and Hope, to open the business?

Continued on page 18

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Continued from page 11 Finally, the cold weather did bring snow and ice with it. This is beneficial for the roots of our plants and shrubs and did provide some support. But don’t forget to continue to check your plants for moisture as they try to recover. Wishing you warmer temperatures – and electricity! Happy Gardening! Fort Bend County Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in educating the community using research-based horticultural information.

Learn about sustainable landscaping & soil preparation

more about sustainable landscaping are welcome to attend. Holladay received his undergraduate degree in Horticulture from Stephen F.Austin State University and his graduate degree in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University. He helped to develop an urban youth horticulture program in Houston, and has also worked at Moody Gardens in Galveston. The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required for the program so that a link to the Webex session can be emailed to all who register. To register online at the library’s website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on “Classes & Events,” select “Virtual Programs,” and find the program on the date indicated. Participants may also register by calling Fort Bend County Libraries’ Communications Office at 281-633-4734.

F

ort Bend County Libraries will present an online program, “Gardening Success Begins with the Soil,” on Tuesday, April 20, from 2 to 3:30 pm. Part 1 of the Texas AgriLife Extension Office’s “Landscape Success” series for homeowners, this program will be live-streamed via Webex; it will not be in person. James (Boone) Holladay, County Extension Agent with the Texas AgriLife Extension Office in Fort Bend County, will talk about how to create and install a sustainable Earth-Kind® landscape by starting with proper soil preparation. Hear about different research-based water-saving technologies, irrigation systems, and turf-management techniques to maintain attractive, dense lawns and landscapes without wasting water. Holladay will also talk about landscape diseases and pests, and ways to manage them while reducing fertilizer and pesticides. Gardeners of all experience levels who are interested in learning

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Continued from page 16 MG: What is Gary Tavener’s involvement with Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring? ML: Gary Tavener joined our family almost 50 years ago. He was studying to be a schoolteacher at the time. My father offered him a share of the family business. Gary bought in and became an owner/partner. He has been a most faithful and honorable man. If there is anyone in my life that I would say I could trust, he would be at the top of the list, next to my father. MG: Why would you say a potential client would immediately know Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring is a family-owned business? ML: Being a family-owned business, we believe in “family.” Customers come in all the time and say we are unique, and we believe that because we treat them like family. Yes, we are a business, but I have watched my father and mother, including Gary, treat everyone like a neighbor.As a matter of fact, our slogan was: “We carpeted your neighbor’s home!” It seemed like everyone that walked into our store said those words, so my father made it our slogan. MG: What would you say is Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring’s business philosophy? ML: Our business philosophy is to go the extra mile or “the extra half mile.” I remember my father telling a story years ago. He was installing carpet at a hotel in Pampa, Texas. In those days carpet runners for stairways were made of wool and were 27 inches

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An April 17, 1975 news clipping, covering the ribbon cutting ceremony of Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring.

wide. The hotel owner liked the color and pattern so much that he wanted the whole lobby floor carpeted with it. In those days carpet seams were hand-sewn. My father would say:“If you forgot your thimble, you might as well go home.” After the completion of the lobby, my father calculated that he had sown a half-mile. By the way, he still has that thimble! MG: How has Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring withstood the test of changing or challenging times? ML: Since 1958, our business has withstood many tests and trials. We have been through six decades of every kind of test.The most recent ones are Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe in my parents’ commitment to righteous principles of hard work, honesty, and integrity. Doing everything it takes to make sure that our customers receive all that they’re expecting and more. It is in these times of testing that peoples’ hearts are revealed.We will always remember our foundation which is to do unto others as you would have it be done to you. That’s our Golden Rule. MG: How has Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring fared during this pandemic? ML: We were thankful for many reasons. The pandemic made us realize there were situations and people we have taken for granted. I don’t believe hardly anyone had a clue on how to prepare or handle the pandemic. I would have to say with God’s help, we have fared well.

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MG: You’ve touched repeatedly on your passion for the community in previous conversations. Why is community important to Rosenberg Carpet and Flooring? ML: We have served our community for 62 years because our community is especially important to us. We were raised here. We raised our children here and now our grandchildren. Our vision is to work with our community and make a positive impact. A community that cares thrives. If the community thrives, it is because of caring people. We serve because we care. We believe in supporting our community by shopping local, allowing schools, churches, and other organizations access to our parking lot for fundraisers such as barbecues, car washes, etc. Since recent hardships, we are focusing on ways to help our community even more. MG: Speaking of community, tell me about this mural on the side of your building. ML: The Rosenberg Mural on our building was not planned by any

means. A young man that I met years ago, Dagoe Marse, came to us with his idea of a mural welcoming people to our city. I showed everyone in the store his idea, and in less the one minute, everyone agreed. I think the mural is monumental and may even become iconic. We hope that visitors and locals will feel the warmth of our beloved city through the mural. Feel free to come by and take selfies with the mural. MG: Lastly, what can clients expect from Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring? ML: Customers can be assured that in serving our clients, we care about your family. We know how important, especially in these times, it is to provide appointments, service, and quality products to accommodate everyone. Our commitment will always be to make sure that all our customers feel safe and secure knowing that we honor their trust. We take our business seriously and have the highest respect for all.

For more information on promotions or sales being offered by Rosenberg Carpet & Flooring visit rosenbergcarpet.com •

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SATURDAY

APRIL 10

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• 19


Health

AUTISM AWARENESS Myths and misconceptions about autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a class of neurological conditions present from early childhood and is often characterized by difficulty communicating, using language and understanding abstract concepts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that an estimated one out of 42 boys and one in 189 girls are diagnosed with ASD in the United States. The CDC uses health and school records for children who are part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network to arrive at these statistics. ASD is now diagnosed in roughly one out of every 68 children in Canada, and has become the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in that country. Even though ASD is widely recognized, s t u d i e d a n d d i s c u s s e d , my t h s a n d misconceptions about the disorder continue to circulate. Shedding light on ASD can help caregivers, peers and anyone who routinely interacts with individuals who fall on the spectrum. ASD is multifaceted Although “autism” and “ASD” are often used interchangeably, these names do not define one specific disorder. The American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses together to form the umbrella term of ASD in 2013, which was revised in the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” However, it’s important to note that an ASD diagnosis is ever-f luid and medical professionals continue to conduct extensive research that may modify earlier definitions of the disorder or render previous classifications outdated. Generally speaking, ASD is often perceived through

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communication deficits that can include misinterpreted or nonverbal interactions. Individuals also may have challenges in bonding/friendship development. People with ASD can understand and express emotion Although communication troubles may be present, people with ASD can and do feel emotions. But they may not be able to express these emotions as easily or as clearly as others can. Also, just because someone has ASD doesn’t mean he or she is unable to understand the emotions of others. But the person may need firm and direct indications of how another person is feeling to understand. Reading body language or tone of voice alone may be inadequate to someone with ASD. Schoolaged children can learn from this, recognizing that someone with ASD may want to have friends and socialize, but he or she may not know how to facilitate these engagements. ASD does not produce carbon-copy symptoms Characteristics of ASD can vary widely from person to person. One person’s limitations or abilities may not be present in another. ASD is not just a children’s disease There is no cure for ASD, and symptoms may not be reversible, which means that ASD is a lifelong condition. Children who are diagnosed will grow into young people and adults with ASD. Many treatments and t h e ra p i e s a re ge a re d t owa rd e a r ly intervention, but adults can benefit from continued work as well. Adults with ASD can lead successful, independent lives. Autism spectrum disorder is more prevalent than ever. However, despite the recognition of ASD, many people do not understand the nuances involved with a diagnosis.

Recognizing the symptoms of autism

Autism is a complex bio-neurological developmental disability that is complicated even further by the various ways people exhibit its symptoms. No two children with autism behave in the same way, so symptoms that are identifiable in one youngster will not necessarily be present in another. Learning the various ways that autism can manifest itself can be a good first step toward understanding the condition. The National Autism Association notes that autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it can range from very mild to very severe cases. But the organization Autism Speaks notes that many people with autism have sensory issues that typically involve over- or under-sensitivities to sounds, lights, touch, tastes, smells, pain, and other stimuli. Autism Speaks also indicates that people with autism may experience social communication challenges and exhibit restricted and repetitive behaviors. Social communication challenges Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication affects


both children and adults with autism.Treatment, especially when it begins in early childhood, can help people with autism overcome some of these difficulties, which include: • understanding spoken language • using spoken language appropriately • understanding or appropriately using gestures • making eye contact • understanding or appropriately using facial expressions • understanding or appropriately using tone of voice People with autism also may not understand that certain expressions are not meant to be taken literally. Autism Speaks also notes that additional social challenges may indicate the presence of autism. Such challenges can include difficulty with: • recognizing emotions and intentions in others • recognizing one’s own emotions • expressing emotions • seeking emotional comfort from others • feeling overwhelmed in social situations • taking turns in conversation • gauging personal space Restricted and repetitive behaviors Behaviors associated with autism vary greatly across the spectrum. Someone with mild autism may not exhibit any such behaviors, while they may be instantly recognizable in others elsewhere on the spectrum. Autism Speaks notes that these behaviors may include: • repetitive body movements, such as rocking, flapping, spinning, or running back and forth • repetitive motions with objects, such as spinning wheels,

shaking sticks and flipping levers • staring at lights or spinning objects • ritualistic behavior, such as lining up objects or repeatedly touching objects in a set order • narrow or extreme interests in specific topics • a need for unvarying routine and a resistance to change. For example, someone with autism may need the same daily schedule and may need to eat the same meal menu and wear the clothes each day. Autism is a complicated disorder that is often recognizable in young children by the time they reach their third birthdays. Parents who suspect their child might have autism can discuss their concerns with their child’s pediatricians.

Get involved with autism awareness efforts

Autism spectrum disorder has the potential to touch just about anyone.The World Health Organization estimates that one in 160 children across the globe has ASD, while some well-controlled studies have reported that figures are substantially higher than that. ASD affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, meaning just about any family can be affected. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its biennial update of autism’s estimated prevalence among the nation’s children.The update was based on analysis of medical records, and where available, educational records of eight-year-old children from 11 monitorin sites across the United States. In a two-year period, the new estimate indicated a 15 percent increase in ASD prevalence.

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Understandably, anyone who has been affected by ASD wants to learn more about what individuals can do to advocate for high quality services for those with ASD.The autism information group Autism Speaks says more work is needed to understand the increased prevalence and the complex medical needs that often accompany ASD. There are many different and effective ways to become more involved in the autism community. Educate children Many schools have integrated classrooms where children who have ASD work alongside their peers. Others may have specialized programs for those who need one-on-one support. Either way, the goal is to introduce children to ASD when they are young, as many have friends or classmates with ASD. Helping to dispel myths about ASD and encouraging support and compassion can improve relationships during childhood. Raise funds Research into causation as well as treatment options and interventions for ASD can be expensive.That makes fundraising a necessary component. Individuals can participate in many organized fundraisers, such as walks, runs, rides, and other activities. However, enterprising people also can create their own fundraisers or ones unique to their own needs. Support others Those who do not have someone with ASD in their immediate family but know a relative, friend or neighbor with ASD can be a listening ear, a person to rally at events or advocacy meetings, or just a touchstone when a little extra support is needed. People who own businesses can support adults with ASD in the community through program’s like the Organization for Autism Research’s Hire Autism Initiative.

Autism spectrum disorder affects many different people. During the month of April and throughout the entire year, there are many ways for people to spread the word about ASD and support ASD research.

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