What: Autism Awareness Day; participants are asked to wear blue in recognition of the day
When: 10 a.m. today
Where: Miller Plaza
Melissa Post's 8-year-old son isn't potty trained even though he's been working on it for five years. He speaks only two words, "eat" and "mama," and he flaps his hands while walking.
Post feels people's stares when they're in public. She wishes for more understanding and acceptance. Her son is doing the best he can in a struggle living with autism.
"Offer a smile and say 'hello,'" Post said. "Maybe they are struggling, but treat them with the decency and respect that we all want."
Post will be among several speakers at the second annual community-wide celebration of World Autism Awareness Day on Wednesday at Miller Plaza's Waterhouse Pavilion.
People attending are asked to wear blue in recognition of the day. Miller Plaza and the Waterhouse Pavilion will be lit with blue light in recognition of the event. The pavilion will remain lit through the night on Wednesday.
Organizers want parents of children and adults with autism to share their stories at the event.
"Too often they are misunderstood. When people hear them, the misunderstanding and myths go away," said Dave Buck, executive director of the Chattanooga Autism Center.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is also scheduled to speak.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders and how to best support individuals living with autism and their families.
Autism and Behavior Services, Orange Grove Center, Signal Centers, Siskin Children's Institute and Chattanooga Autism Center are hosting the event.
The World Autism Day comes just days before the city's Autism Conference on Friday. With more than 400 people scheduled to attend, registration for the event is closed.
This is the biggest conference scheduled in the five years it's been hosted. It will include more than 45 agencies that provide therapy and assistance to people with autism.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.