COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - According to the CDC, about one in 54 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Awareness Month is coming up in April and a local little league is helping raise awareness early this weekend.
Sally Little League came together Saturday at Shirley Winston Park to not only spread autism awareness with the community, but to show love to those in their league affected by autism.
Patricia Shaheer says she was shocked when she found out her son Jacob was autistic.
“The psychologist was like, ‘Jacob has autism’, and she said it is something that would impact him for a lifetime,” said Shaheer, parent.
Shaheer told their story Saturday at Sally Little League’s Autism Awareness Celebration in Columbus. She says having Jacob in the baseball program is helping him immensely.
“I had a conversation, our little kid has autism, he’s high functioning, this is what you’ll see, this is what needs to be done, and they were very understanding,” said Shaheer.
Shayla Thompson with Sally Little League says they have other kids in their program with autism as well, which is why they wanted to throw a celebration.
“We just wanted to show them that we love them and that everyone is different, but we will show them no difference,” said Shayla Thompson, organizer of the event.
Each child was honored and given a gift before the league’s games started. Thompson says it’s important to educate other children in the league about developmental disabilities like autism.
“It’s okay, they’re still your teammate, and you’re supposed to treat them and love them and respect them as you do anybody,” said Thompson.
The kids cheered, danced, and celebrated their fellow teammates showing love and support.
“Autism does not define a person, even with Jacob being in 6th grade and being 11 years old and having this diagnosis has not stopped him from doing anything,” said Shaheer.
Shayla Thompson with Sally Little League says she hopes events like these will unify the kids in their league and the community as well.