RHINELANDER - In April we recognize World Autism Awareness Month. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says 1 in every 50 children is affected. This disorder presents a unique challenge for each family. For those of us North of highway 64-- it can be more of a struggle.
"It's a long way to go to find another parent to come into the school district, to find a support group. So I think you'll find a scarcity of services up here," said Robin Mathea, Director of Parent-to-Parent of Wisconsin.
Families with children on the moderate to severe side of the Autism Spectrum usually need help. Autism can be exhausting for caregivers, but that's only part of what they have to deal with.
"Often times people don't understand unless they've walked in your shoes, and that's a really hard stigma to get past for families. Your child's misbehaving in the grocery store, and somebody next to you has a child that's just so appropriate and they're looking and thinking, whoa, you're a bad parent because you haven't been able to get your child to behave, but yet you may be having a really successful time in the grocery store because you've at least gotten this far with them," said Mathea.
People on the Autism Spectrum are all unique. This can make it very difficult to find appropriate child care. Mathea says she often hears parents say they had to quit their jobs because there was no one else to take care of their child.
A huge spike in the number of children with autism has some calling this an epidemic. But there are also questions of whether more children DO have the disorder, or are just being diagnosed. Mathea says an early diagnosis can make a huge difference.
"I think we're so much savvier at diagnosing. And with early intervention we get our best outcomes, so why not?"
Below are links to groups that can help parents and kids with autism and other emotional and behavioral disorders.
RHINELANDER - Usually when we think of people fighting world hunger, collecting food donations and other community service events come to mind. But a group of kids from Rhinelander are fighting world hunger a different way.
On Sunday, 14 people, including kids in grades five through 12 and some of their parents, set out on a weeklong 250 mile bike ride to raise money. They're all part of Rhinelander's Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Pastor Tammy Barthels says this is a great way for kids to learn about world hunger.
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