The Key West City Commission has proclaimed April as World Autism Awareness Month. Police Chief Sean Brandenburg and Fire Chief Alan Averette accepted the proclamation for autism advocate Mike DiMauro, who attended the meeting via Zoom.
DiMauro thanked the commission for the recognition and for joining in a worldwide effort to raise awareness.
Both chiefs and their departments are strong advocates of autism awareness and work closely year-round with the Autism Society of the Keys (ASK). Ambulances and police cars now contain sensory boxes to help comfort anyone in crisis with autism. Last year several police cars were wrapped with autism awareness puzzle pieces, and the school resource officers’ cars remained wrapped. And this is the second year that officers are wearing blue badges to raise awareness. Members of the fire department have printed up special autism awareness shirts featuring the familiar puzzle pieces and using them to raise funds for ASK.
Autism spectrum disorder affects an estimated one in 54 U.S. children and one in 45 U.S. adults. It is a complex condition that affects each person differently, resulting in unique strengths and challenges. Autism can cause challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, and can affect anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background.
“A comprehensive, collaborative approach will help to advance research, providing a better understanding of the many forms of autism,” reads the proclamation, “while strengthening advocacy efforts and ensuring access to services and resources throughout the life span.”
The proclamation continues, “autistic people should have opportunities to reach their greatest potential and the whole of society stands to benefit from this.”
In the photo: Commissioners Gregory Davila and Jimmy Weekley, Mayor Teri Johnston, Police Chief Sean Brandenburg, Fire Chief Alan Averette, and Commissioners Sam Kaufman, Clayton Lopez and Bill Wardlow. Commissioner Mary Lou Hoover is seated at the dais and autism advocate Mike DiMauro is in attendance on the screen above.