During the month of April, the trees outside the Judson Center in Royal Oak light up blue as part of its #Autism2Light campaign.

During the month of April, the trees outside the Judson Center in Royal Oak light up blue as part of its #Autism2Light campaign.

File photo provided by Barbara Fornasiero

Light up blue for Autism Awareness Month

Judson Center encourages residents to bring light to autism

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published April 9, 2021


ROYAL OAK — For the fifth year in a row, the Judson Center glows blue after dark in observance that April is Autism Awareness Month.

Individuals and families are also encouraged to switch out their front porch lights for blue lights this April to bring autism to light.

This year, the Judson Center is presenting a series of fun and unique community engagement activities, including community artwork and showcasing how local families celebrate ‘blue bashes’ from the comfort of home, on its social media pages. The associated hashtag with the campaign is #Autism2Light.

The Judson Center is a nonprofit that provides programs and services for individuals and families affected by autism. Autism spectrum disorder is a neurobiological disorder that impacts the development of social skills, communication skills, sensory regulation and behaviors.

The building has been located at 13 Mile and Greenfield roads since 1924, starting as an orphanage and transitioning to provide not only child and family services, but also programs for disability, behavioral health and primary care.

Since 2005, the Judson Center’s Autism Connections program has provided comprehensive services to families affected by autism. The center offers services in Royal Oak, Ann Arbor and Warren.

The program addresses the individual needs of those with a diagnosis of autism and their families from age 2 to adulthood in the form of applied behavior analysis services for individuals and counseling, training and workshops for family members.

According to the Judson Center, 1 in 54 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, with boys four times more likely than girls to receive the diagnosis, and in Michigan, there are more than 50,000 individuals living with ASD.

“The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism and enrolled in (applied behavior analysis) or rehabilitative treatment, the greater the opportunity to optimize becomes,” said Michelle O’Connor-Teklinski, Judson Center’s director of autism and disability services. “We’ve made great strides in autism treatment over the past 10 years and use Autism Awareness Month to share our progress — and also educate the public on the capabilities of those with autism or on the autism spectrum to contribute to our workplaces and communities.”

On March 16, the Royal Oak City Commission approved a proclamation designating April 2021 as National Autism Awareness Month in Royal Oak. It is also displaying a Judson Center Bring Autism to Light banner at 11 Mile and Main Street this month.

The proclamation states that while there is no cure for autism, “it is well-documented that if individuals with autism receive treatment early in their lives it often is possible for those individuals to lead significantly improved lives.”

It continues to state that individuals with autism often require a “lifetime of specialized and community support services to ensure their health and safety and to support families’ resilience as they manage the psychological and financial burdens autism presents.”

In order to raise awareness, the proclamation resolves to urge all employees, residents and members of the business community to bring #Autism2Light.

“We are grateful that you guys have been part of this community for almost 100 years, doing the great work that you do … to improve the lives of so many of our citizens that have autism,” Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said. “Let’s light up blue this year again.”

The Judson Center is located at 4410 W. 13 Mile Road.

For more information, visit judsoncenter.org or call (248) 549-4339.