Calendar: Leadership Development Workshops in Concord, NC


3rd – Mike Burner, James Rodney Quesenberry, Jr.

4th – Judy Lowder, Shirley Moose

6th – Buzz Thigpen

11th – Amanda Weatherly

14th – Janice Owens

15th – Reid Biggers

16th – Dale Drye, Chris Griffin, Gay Lee

20th – Jimmy Hoffman, Ginger Knight

22nd– Wayne Thompson

23rd – June Long

24th – Deb Peters

25th – Jeremy Wilson

26th – Pat Crowell, Angie Irwin, Kiersten Jacobs,

Barbara Palmer, Renee Steadman

27th – Sherry Almond, Haleigh Honeycutt, Laney Merrinkers

28th – Jean Cox

4th – Jimmy & Tricia Hoffman

23rd – David & Timmie Beaver

April is National Autism Awareness Month

           Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before age three.  Interestingly, autism’s diagnosis rate has grown steadily over the past 20 years, and affects 1 in 88 children.  Boys are affected at a rate 4x that of girls.  Autism often has other associated medical conditions, which may include Fragile X syndrome, allergies, asthma, epilepsy, gastrointestinal/digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, immune or autoimmune disorders, plus other behavioral health issues such as anxiety, ADHD and Tourette Syndrome.

           The term autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) refers to a group of developmental disabilities that may cause significant social, communication and behavior challenges in children or adults Symptoms can range from very mild to severe and can also vary in the ways in which the symptoms begin.  The autism spectrum runs from the “classic” autism to pervasive developmental disorder.  In the “classic” autistic disorder, individuals experience significant challenges in communication, social interactions and behavior.  People with Asperger Syndrome may have social challenges and unusual behaviors or interests, but generally do not have problems with language or learning disability.  People diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder have some of the symptoms of autism or Asperger Syndrome, but to a much lesser degree – such as in social situations or when their communication skills are challenged.

            Symptoms that may appear before age 3 include: not responding to name by 1 year; not pointing to objects by 14 months; not playing “pretend” games; avoiding eye contact and delayed speech and language skills.  Children may also repeat words over and over; get upset by minor changes; and have obsessive interest or unusual reactions to how things look sound, taste or feel.  Physical manifestations may include rocking, flapping hands or spinning in circles.

            The exact cause of Autism is unknown.  Genetics is believed to play a major role and ingestion of certain drugs during pregnancy (thalidomide, valproic acid) have been shown to correlate with a higher incidence of ASDs.  The belief that ASDs are caused by poor parenting practices has been proven to be untrue.

            Although there is no “cure” for autism or ASDs, early intervention therapies can play a significant role in improving a child’s development.  If parents are concerned their child might be displaying signs of autism, they should first consult their pediatrician to discuss their concerns.  Pediatricians are connected with a broad range of services through agencies such as Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDA) for testing and evaluation.  Referrals may also be made to pediatric neurologists or psychologists as appropriate.

           The Autism Society of America provides a wealth of information on autism and ASDs at  Visit for information on current research funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Another resource (also used in researching this article) is