DELANO, Calif. — According to the CDC, 1 in 54 children have autism.
"People don’t know and understand autism and what can happen with a kid on the spectrum," said Wendy Terrazas.
Terrazas has been the Delano Union School District Director of Special Education for eleven years. She said she’s seen a definite rise in children with autism the last few years.
“I say each one of them are very unique in their capabilities and the things that they can do," said Terrazas.
Terrazas said it’s crucial to educate everyone on autism whether their child, their child’s friend or a child at the grocery store has it.
“People may look at them and say, ‘Boy, that’s a child that’s out of control. Why can’t that parent take care of that child?’ and it’s not that," she said.
Adventist Health Delano Director of Community Integration Matthew Cauthron said that’s especially needed in Delano.
"In communities such as Delano where access to care is limited, it may be more challenging and more complex to identify specific signs of autism," said Cauthron.
So for Autism Awareness Month, the school district, Adventist Health and the Delano Police Department are teaming up.
"I never cease to be amazed by the hard work, the creativity, to stay engaged with the community," said Chief of Police Robert Nevarez.
He said officers need to know signs of autism and understand how it impacts people.
“Occasionally we get dispatched to locations because somebody is behaving in a manner that is misinterpreted as creating a disturbance when in fact that person may have autism," said Nevarez.
Adventist Health donated 10,000 face masks to be given to each person who purchases an Autism Awareness police patch this month. Proceeds will go towards programs and trips for students with autism in the school district.
To purchase a patch for ten dollars, contact the police department at 661-721-3377.
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