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Autism Awareness Month

Posted at: 04/02/2013 7:22 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The color blue is popping up across Southern Minnesota. From ribbons on trees, to Facebook pictures, people are spreading the word for World Autism Awareness Day.

Four-year-old Cashius loves to ride the roller coaster, go bouncing, and give his mom kisses. He also happens to have autism.

"Around 13-14 months, questions started popping up in my head. Why isn't he pointing, why isn't he trying to say mama," said Cashius' mom, Jessica Battle. She and Cashius were living in Phoenix, Arizona. About a year ago, they decided to move to Rochester so that Cashius could attend the Rochester Center for Autism.

"We provide behavioral therapy for children ages 1-15. It really is an early childhood program. It's a one-on-one tutor-style program," said Jon Sailer, the director at Rochester Center for Autism.

"It's been great. There was really no trying to communicate for him. It was more just sounds and now, he's taking my hand and pulling me to things, trying to do signs. I see him more interactive with other children," said Battle.

But like most schools, the need for new equipment is overshadowed by a lack of funding.

"The equipment gets beat up pretty quick. There's a lot of kids coming through here, a lot of different age ranges, so its really important, so it's really important to have a place for the kids to play," said Sailer.

The plan is to upgrade the school's Gross Motor Room, so Battle stepped in to help. She started making jewelry to raise money, and the salon her mom works at, Blue H2O, is helping as well.

"We are putting in extensions for $10. All the money is going to the Rochester Center for Autism," said Shelly Joseph, the owner of BlueH2O.

While the money will help out the school and the children who go there, Battle says even more importantly, it's about awareness.

"Most likely it will affect you one day, whether it's a family member, or a friend has a child. Educate yourself. Be sympathetic to parents and children and try to help in any way you can," said Battle.

If you want to help out, you can stop by the school and purchase some of the items for sale. And if you're interested in the blue hair extensions, just call the Blue-H2O salon, and set up an appointment.