C & G News: Royal Oak Local Center and Community Unite to ‘Bring Autism to Light’

04/12/2017 - 9:45am

When Fadi Francis put out a call to the community to help promote autism awareness, he never imagined the magnitude of positivity and partnership that would come his way on behalf of the Judson Center. Francis works at the Judson Center’s Royal Oak location as a development associate and was tasked with kicking off the Bring Autism to Light campaign.

As part of the movement to turn the community blue in recognition of April is Autism Awareness Month, the Judson Center along with Royal Oak City Hall and other destinations are passing out free yard signs and blue lightbulbs intended for people’s front porches and lawns.

“I started out reaching out to the community, and the response right away was everyone wanted to be involved,” Francis said. “And the demand has been growing and growing.

“We’re being contacted by organizations, businesses and parents of the Autism Connections program for more signs every day.”

Francis said he was especially surprised when Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier responded personally, saying that the city wanted to do whatever it could to help.

Since that call, numerous city buildings and departments have stepped up to turn their buildings blue, pass out lawn signs, and Fournier issued an official proclamation to Judson Center officials March 27 designating April as Autism Awareness Month in Royal Oak.

“The city of Royal Oak is proud to be home to the Judson Center and was honored to be asked to partner in the endeavor to bring autism to light,” Fournier said.

Judson Center Director of Autism Connections Ann Patronik said she hopes the campaign and attention equates to the community being more aware.

“People with autism have so much to offer,” she said. “Whether it is in school or peer friends or in the job market, I think if we can raise that awareness, the better opportunities kids and adults with autism will have in the community, not just here at the Judson Center.”

Patronik said the campaign is important because it lets the autism community know that it is not alone and lets people know that the Judson Center is there for them.

Patronik said she also hopes that through the campaign everyone will know life is just a little bit different for families who have children with autism.   

“So think twice before you judge that child having a meltdown in the grocery store,” she said. “Kids with autism don’t look different. They look the same as everyone else, so it’s about just raising awareness to the community around us.”

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Due to the nature of the work we do, Judson Center upholds the privacy of the children, adults and families we serve. Therefore, photos and names may be changed to protect identity.