Autism Awareness In Scranton

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SCRANTON -- April is Autism Awareness Month, and Wednesday was Autism Awareness Day.

In Scranton, blue luminaries flickered on the sidewalk outside The NHS School Wednesday night.

Inside, students, their families and teachers gathered.

They want to increase awareness about autism, a developmental disability that can affect someone's social and behavioral skills and their communication.

"My kind of autism is, I spend a lot of time in my head, I think a lot. I've been told it's like three times faster than average people think. There are certain hardships. I learned very early in elementary school, I didn't know the right way to act," said student Evan Clark.

The NHS School in Scranton has 24 students ranging in age from 5 to 18.

Their teachers and families said over the years, more and more people have become aware of autism, and they said that's good thing.

"The families have found that people are more tolerant now. It used to be that when there was an autistic child in the store, people would glare at the parents like, 'Your child is so misbehaved.' Now people are a little more understanding," said Mary Griffin of NHS School.

"There are good support groups, there are a lot of activities that we can get the children together. We learn from other parents," said parent Kimberly DeMarco of Jermyn.

Recent research has linked autism with several genetic factors.

Scientists have said there is still a lot to learn about autism.

For people Newswatch 16 spoke with, having a school like the one in Scranton and support has meant so much.

"My son has been here since last year, and the change that I have seen in him is just incredible, he has opened up so much. I think he is regaining his confidence, and he's kind of understanding he's not alone," said parent Joanna Brandt.