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Highlands plans autism event

Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Students from Project Talent Theatre Workshops rehearse one of the numbers they will be performing at Highlands Hospital in honor of World Autism Awareness Day on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Autumn Taylor (left), Donovan Taylor, Dayton Nicholson and Samantha Nicholson, along with Ethan Shultz (missing from photo) will be performing 'Can't Wait to be King' from 'The Lion King' for the children of Highlands Hospital Autism Center and others gathering in the Courtyard at Highlands Hospital from 2 to 4 p.m.

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By Nancy Henry
Saturday, March 29, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

Highlands Hospital Regional Autism Center has been helping children with autism in this area for more than two years, and families in the region have been receiving state-of-the-art care.

Highlands follows the same model of diagnostic evaluation and treatment as the Cleveland Clinic uses with respect to its autism services division.

World Autism Awareness Day is being celebrated on Wednesday.

And Highlands Hospital Regional Autism Center is inviting people to help it celebrate.

This is the seventh year World Autism Awareness Day has been observed. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day in unique ways.

Locally, a program will be held at the Courtyard at Highlands Hospital on Murphy Avenue.

Students and staff of the autism center will be there with their families.

The public is invited from 2 to 4 p.m.

Froggy radio will be playing, and Liz Jones Art Studio will be face painting.

Caitlyn Cuneo will be performing. Project Talent Theatre Workshop members will be entertaining, and Lynn's Dairy Queen in Connellsville will be there with its mascot.

Also scheduled to appear is former Miss Teen Pittsburgh Kailey Verbickey.

“World Autism Awareness seems to be increasing in recent years. This has been so beneficial in recognizing and demystifying the disorder. Our event Wednesday will allow our students to socialize and celebrate their individual personalities that we all cherish about them,” said Amanda Freger, director of autism services at the Highlands Hospital Regional Autism Center.

“The excitement we have received from our families in supporting them and their children has been fantastic. Our staff is very good at making learning fun for the kids. We look forward to opportunities like today to help them generalize skills in settings that are less structured and that are much more environmentally stimulating,” said Liz Rosner, head coordinating teacher at the center.

A balloon release is also planned. Martin's will be providing the refreshments

“This is one of the first events of this scale that I will benefit from by being a part of here at Highlands. The students in our program love to experience new things. It continues to amaze me about when we don't set limitations as to what we expect our students to do, that they excel beyond what anyone would have ever expected,” said Jordan Morran, coordinating teacher at the center.

“Our students have such great spirits to achieve their goals and interact with others. This is a great worldwide day to celebrate, in addition to us having the opportunity to celebrate with them every day,” Freger said.

For more information call 724-603-3360.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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