LOWELL — Acting Superintendent Barry Golner would like to share that the Lowell Police Department will recognize April as Autism Acceptance Month with events meant to increase awareness and acceptance of those on the autism spectrum.
On April 2, Lowell Police will recognize World Autism Awareness Day by participating in “Light it up Blue,” a nationwide event in which participants across America display blue lights in recognition of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Since 2017, when Cyndy Muchine of Lowell approached Lowell Police about participating in the event, Lowell Police have issued a special order for officers who can safely do so to pull over at 7:30 p.m. and activate their blue cruiser lights for 60 seconds. Muchine’s son Kyle is on the autism spectrum.
Muchine said Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 44 children in the United States, which underscores the need for communities to understand the condition and develop the knowledge and skills to respond to the needs of those on the autism spectrum.
“Autism awareness is education. It highlights the hurdles that those on the autism spectrum face every day and minimizes the stigma, stereotypes, and negative narratives around autism, while promoting better autism-friendly attitudes in the community,” Muchine said. “Autism acceptance means being aware that those on the autism spectrum are members of the human community deserving the same basic human rights, and autism acceptance enables us to find meaningful ways to fully support and help create pathways for individuals on the autism spectrum.”
Since 2017, the Lowell Police Department has expanded its activities by also participating in a resource fair for families of children with autism. The fair could not be held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will return this year on April 5.
The Autism Awareness and Acceptance Event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Lowell Senior Center, 276 Broadway St.
The event also aims to help promote autism awareness, understanding and education. It was organized in collaboration with partners at the Lowell Community Health Center, the Applied Behavior Institute, Shapiro Educational and Behavioral Consultants, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, Thom Child & Family Services, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, the Commonwealth Care Alliance, Boston Behavior Learning Centers and the Department of Children and Families. Lowell Police K-9 Mack will also be on hand.
Thanks to the Lowell Police Superior Officers Association, Lowell Police will also offer a limited number of specialized autism acceptance patches to the community in exchange for a $10 donation, and all proceeds will benefit the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. The union purchased the patches so that all proceeds from patch sales can go to the Flutie Foundation.
The patches will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and they will be available at the Autism Awareness and Acceptance Event on April 5. Anyone interested in obtaining a patch should contact Maryann Manzi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Autism Awareness and Acceptance Event is a great opportunity for anyone to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and for families to meet each other, meet police officers, and to learn more about resources in the community,” said Interim Superintendent Golner. “I want to thank everyone who has partnered with us on this event, and to invite the entire community.”