SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres will conduct Autism Awareness Night at Saturday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds at Petco Park in an effort to raise awareness and support individuals and their families who are affected by autism.
Representatives from various autism awareness and sensory inclusive groups will participate in a baseline ceremony and a representative will ring the Mission Bell and Damiel Platzman, drummer for Imagine Dragons will throw out the first pitch.
Platzman is on the board of directors for KultureCity, a non-profit that Petco park worked with to make the stadium the first on the west coast to be sensory inclusive. This means there will be sensory inclusive areas that allow for a more comfortable environment for fans with autism to be able to enjoy the game.
As part of Petco Park being sensory-inclusive, sensory bags will be available to check out at guest service locations which will include noise-cancelling headphones, fidgets, feeling thermometers and location wristbands for parents to write their phone numbers on.
The KultureCity app will also feature social stories that explain what to expect when going to an event at Petco Park. Some info provided will include: info on how to enter, how your seats will look and even what the mascot looks like. Petco Park staff will also go through a KultureCity designed training program so they are prepared to assist all guests.
Autism Speaks seeks to promote solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Awareness Night comes during World Autism Month. In connection with Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks began a public awareness campaign April 2 encouraging parents to have children screened for autism early and seek a diagnosis if necessary.
"We are committed to creating a more inclusive world for people with autism, and that starts with early screening and timely intervention so that people with autism can live their fullest lives," said Angela Geiger, Autism Speaks president and CEO.
"There is considerable work to be done in overcoming obstacles that may delay a diagnosis -- the first step toward improved future outcomes. With this new campaign, we hope to give families the tools they need to identify early signs, feel empowered to get their children screened and seek support if they need it."
The campaign includes the websites ScreenForAutism.org and DeteccionDeAutismo.org, which have resources for parents.
According to an April 2018 report from the Early Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, one in 59 children at the age of 8 were identified with autism spectrum disorder.
A report from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention released April 11 found a growing number of 4-year-olds were identified with autism spectrum disorder, increasing from one in 75 in 2010 to one in 59 in 2014, the most recent year studied.
"The CDC data for 4-year-olds are an important addition to our understanding of autism prevalence," said Tom Frazier, Autism Speaks chief science officer.
"The estimated prevalence of ASD in 4-year-olds is an underestimate, with many children without an intellectual disability being identified later. These findings suggest that ASD is even more common than indicated by the most recent CDC prevalence report for 8-year-olds."
In his proclamation declaring April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, President Donald Trump declared "we must continue to support Americans with ASD" and "the safety of all Americans with ASD is a priority of my administration."
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, signed into law by Trump on March 23, 2018, included Kevin and Avonte's Law of 2018, which expands the existing federal emergency alert program to include people with ASD and other cognitive disorders who wander from safety.
The law also authorizes funding for tracking technologies and specialized training for caregivers to help prevent and respond to instances of wandering.
The law was named for two boys diagnosed with autism who wandered away from supervised settings and drowned.
"I call upon all Americans to learn more about the signs of autism to improve early diagnosis, understand the challenges faced by individuals with autism and find ways to support those with autism and their families," Trump wrote in his proclamation.