It's in the Rehab Department from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

    Recent headlines from a new government health survey of parents indicate that 1 in 50 school-age children are affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Another study concludes that the number may be as high as 1 in only 38. While those numbers may be the most recent, they have yet to replace the official Center for Disease Control’s estimate of 1 in 88 American children affected by autism.         

Whichever study you believe, the number of people affected by autism is too high. And no matter how you look at the numbers, they are alarming.

April is Autism Awareness Month: April 20 Awareness Event at RiverView Health
    In honor or Autism Awareness Month, RiverView Health will hold an awareness event on Saturday, April 20 in the Rehab Department on RiverView’s Crookston campus. The event will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m., and is open to anyone who has been touched by autism. Enter RiverView through the Rehab entrance on the south side of the building at 323 Minnesota Street.

    Several fun events will be set up for youth and adults of all ages, including activities in the pediatric gym, face painting, balloon animals, and activities for adults in the adult rehab area. RiverView staff will also conduct an iPad demonstration, and iPads will be available for use. You can also build your own ice cream sundae in-between enjoying the activities, and register for a chance to win an AmericInn Pool Party. Then, at 3 p.m., everyone will join together to release balloons in honor of those on the autism spectrum.

iPad to be given away
    An Apple iPad will also be given away that day to a deserving individual on the spectrum. iPads are readily used in occupational and speech-language therapy as well as in schools for educational purposes, said RiverView Speech Pathologist Andrea Reynolds.

    “The iPad has applications for teaching many skills in a way that interests and motivates individuals with autism. There are apps for reading, social skills, vocabulary, concepts, as well as apps for improvements on both expressive and receptive language development,’’ Reynolds reported.

“Use of an iPad and careful selection of apps can give children with autism a doorway to improved communication, comprehension, behavior, literacy and educational development.’’

    The RiverView Speech Department will also make sure the winner gets off on the right foot by providing the individual with information to make the iPad a useful tool. For an application please go to and click on “News’’.

Autism facts and figures
    Did you know?
    • While autism affects 1 in 88 children, 1 in 54 are boys.
    • Autism prevalence figures are growing.
    • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States.
    • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
    • Autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases.
    • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism.
    • There is no medical detection or cure for autism.

Know the signs
    One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.

    The following “red flags’’ from the Autism Speaks Organization may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, do not delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

    • no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter;
    • no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months;
    • no babbling by 12 months;
    • no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months;
    • no words by 16 months;
    • no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months;
    • any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.

    For more information on the signs of autism, or to make an appointment for a speech and hearing evaluation, contact the RiverView Speech Department at 281-9463.