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MEDIA ADVISORY: Light It Up Blue Kicks Off Autism Awareness Month April 2

Columbia Community Joins Global Movement to Support Autism Awareness

April 2nd, 2015

Story Contact: Jesslyn Chew,

Adrienne Cornwall, (573) 884-4512,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou and the Columbia community will “Light It Up Blue” to show support of autism awareness with a community event on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, from 6-7 p.m. at the MU Student Center (Hitt & Rollins). The event will feature a balloon drop, door prizes and a blue glow-stick walk at dusk to Memorial Union.

Buildings around the world – landmarks, hotels, sports venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses – and around Columbia will be lit with blue light on April 2 and throughout Autism Awareness Month to support Light It Up Blue.

“We all know someone who is affected by autism – either a person with an autism spectrum disorder, or someone in his or her family or community,” said Lea Ann Lowery, associate clinical professor of occupational therapy at the MU School of Health Professions and a faculty member at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “Light It Up Blue is a great and easy way for people to show their support and help raise awareness of autism in our community.”

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder marked by difficulties in communication and social skills, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in the U.S. in one in 68 children. National autism advocacy group Autism Speaks leads Light It Up Blue worldwide to help change the future for all people with autism by raising public awareness about autism.

The Columbia Light It Up Blue campaign is organized by the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, the MU School of Health Professions, MU Disability Center, ACT, Boone County Family Resources, Services for Independent Living, Woodhaven and Easter Seals Midwest. Supporters are invited to wear blue on April 2 and stand together as a community at 6 p.m. for a balloon drop, prizes, a ribbon-cutting with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, a glow-stick walk from the MU Student Center to Memorial Union, and a visit with Truman the Tiger and TJ.

Members of the community may also participate in Light It Up Blue by wearing blue on April 2 and organizing events for their schools, business and other organizations. The MU event on April 2 is free and open to the public. Members of the media are invited to participate, and members of the organizing committee are available for comment before and during the event.

The MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders is a national leader in confronting the challenges of autism and other developmental conditions through its collaborative research, training and service programs. The Thompson Center is one of 14 health facilities in the ATN, a ground-breaking network of hospitals, physicians, researchers and families across the United States and Canada.

Light It Up Blue is an initiative of Autism Speaks, held every year on April 2, commemorating the UN-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Read more: Light It Up Blue and Autism Speaks.