Hundreds Turn Out for Inaugural Autism Awareness Event 

A little boy plays with bubbles at the inaugural autism awareness community outreach fair at NewYork-Presbyterian hospital.

Shamel Jr., 5, plays with bubbles at the inaugural autism awareness community outreach fair on April 2 at NewYork-Presbyterian. 

Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian, and NYP’s Center for Autism and the Developing Brain hosted an autism awareness community outreach fair on April 2.

The event took place in the Wintergarden lobby at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and it brought together Columbia child neurologists and psychiatrists, as well as clinical providers including therapists and child life specialists, educators, and nonprofit service organizations, all with a special focus on autism. They shared therapy tips, resources, and other information with parents from the community.

The fair was the work of a task force spearheaded by Jennifer Bain, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology in the Division of Child Neurology at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons; NYP child life specialist Alison Heffer, MSEd; and others. 

More than 200 people attended the event. Children had their faces painted and played with toys and each other. Lakota, a golden retriever from BluePath, an area organization that provides autism service dogs, was a popular playmate.

April 2 is observed as World Autism Awareness Day, and the entire month is dedicated to awareness. According to figures released last year by the CDC, one in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.