World Autism Awareness Month

Every April Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place throughout the month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

We know there is not one autism but many subtypes, Types of autism are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think, and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with autism spectrum disorder may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.

Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention issues.

Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.


  • In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
  • Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, 1 in 37 boys are diagnosed, 1 in 151 girls are diagnosed
  • Most children were still being diagnosed after age 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2
  • 31% of children with autism spectrum disorder have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] less than 70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (IQ over 85)
  • Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups
  • Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often
  • Early intervention provides the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits throughout life
  • There is no medical detection for autism


  • Research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases
  • Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having autism
  • Parents who have a child with ASD have a 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child who is also affected
  • Studies have shown that among identical twins, if one child has autism, the other will be affected about 36 to 95 percent of the time. In non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other is affected about 31 percent of the time
  • Over the last two decades, extensive research about any link between childhood vaccinations and autism has been done. The results of this research are clear: VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM

Find out more including a list of autism-friendly events in your area by visiting https://www.autismspeaks.org/

April is National Minority Health Month

Active & Healthy is the theme for National Minority Health Month 2019, and the Office of Minority Health will join our partners throughout the country as we promote physical activity to help people live healthier lives.

An active and healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. According to the 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released last year, adults need at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

We invite you to get active this month by sharing information about resources and events and – this is most important – picking a team of your friends, family or colleagues and joining our Active & Healthy Challenge. You can learn more about creating a team below.

Step into NMHM19:

  • Sign up for the Active & Healthy Challenge
  • Encourage others to join the Active & Healthy Challenge
  • Join the conversation on Twitter on April 17 using #ActiveandHealthyChat
  • Spread the word by sharing National Minority Health Month graphics on your website and social media channels throughout April
  • Stay on top of the latest National Minority Health Month events by signing up for OMH email updates or following us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Activos y Saludables es el lema del Mes Nacional de la Salud de las Minorías 2019. La Oficina de Salud de las Minorías le invita a unirse a nosotros y a organizaciones en todo el país para promover la actividad física como una manera de ayudar a las personas a tener una vida más saludable.

Llevar una vida activa y saludable puede ayudar a reducir el riesgo de presión arterial alta, diabetes tipo 2 y otras enfermedades crónicas. La 2nda Edición de las recomendaciones sobre actividad física para los estadounidenses, publicada el año pasado, indica que los adultos deben hacer al menos de 150 a 300 minutos de actividad física moderada o intensa a la semana. Esto es el equivalente de 22 a 44 minutos de actividad física al día. También dos veces a la semana deben hacer actividades para fortalecer los músculos.

Lo animamos a estar activo este mes y a compartir información relacionada al tema, recursos y eventos. También lo exhortamos a que organice un equipo con sus amistades, familia o compañeros/as de trabajo y que se unan al Reto Activos y Saludables. Abajo le decimos cómo formar un equipo.

Acepte el reto este #NMHM19:

  • Regístrese para el Reto Activos y Saludables
  • Anime a otros a unirse al reto
  • Únase por Twitter a la charla #ActiveandHealthyChat el 17 de abril a las 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Ayude a difundir el mensaje: comparta gráficos de #NMHM19 en su sitio web y redes sociales
  • Manténgase informado, suscríbase para recibir información por correo electrónico Síganos en TwitterFacebook e Instagram

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Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS): A Path to Recovery

The opioid epidemic is all around us. It has no barriers. So, if someone came to you seeking help for an opioid addiction, where would you turn?

Many people turn to Partners to find treatment options. Now, thanks to a three-year Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) grant, there is an option available to adults who are underinsured or don’t have insurance.

The Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) grant funds an opioid treatment and recovery program for adults age 18 and over living in Gaston and Lincoln counties. The program uses three types of services–Medication Assisted Treatment, counseling, and peer support—to help those with an opioid use disorder stop abusing substances and move toward recovery. Individuals in the program who are at risk for living with infectious diseases can receive education, care coordination, testing, counseling, and risk reduction services. Tobacco cessation programs will also be offered for anyone receiving services.

The goals of this grant are to get more people into Medication Assisted Treatment and reduce illegal use of opioids. Medication Assisted Treatment uses Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications proven to reduce illegal drug use, overdose deaths, criminal activity, and transmission of infectious diseases. People are more likely to begin and stay in treatment when these medications are used along with counseling and other services.  Treatment includes regular visits with medical staff, counselors, support groups, and peer support specialists. Random drug tests are also a routine part of services.

Recovery support includes peer support and connection to other services. Staff will talk with individuals about their needs for anything related to home, health, purpose, and community. This includes, but is not limited to, housing, employment, social activities, family support, and health insurance. The grant program also addresses poverty and unsafe living conditions to promote successful recovery.

Integrated Care of Greater Hickory provides services for Lincoln County residents in their office at 1228 N. Flint St. in Lincolnton. Referrals to this office can be made by calling 828-322-5915, ext. 220.

McLeod Addictive Disease Center is the provider in Gastonia.  Their clinic is located at 549 Cox Rd. in Gastonia. Referrals can be made by calling 704-865-1558, ext. 2911.

The funds received through the SAMHSA grant will cover the cost of services, staff, and program evaluation. The grant will serve 160 people over three years.

If you have any questions about the Medication Assisted Recovery Services program, please contact Vanessa Anderson at 828-323-8062 or vanderson@partnersbhm.org.

In the Community 

Greenway has Extended Free Fares in Burke County

The Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority has extended free fares for the Burke County Flex Routes. Routes 21, 22, 23, and 24 are free from now until August 30, 2019. So keep riding, going places, and enjoying your public transit services in Morganton and beyond! for more information, call 828-465-7634.

Child and Family Team 1 Training: “An Introduction to Child and Family Teams: A Cross System Training from the Family’s Perspective”

This is a two-day experiential training with a goal of providing an overview of Child and Family Team meetings from the family’s perspective. The training seeks to reinforce the idea of “one family, one plan” by addressing Child and Family Teams through the lens of multiple systems as they affect families in their everyday lives. Agency representatives, and parents and family members over 18 years of age, are encouraged to attend. Training is April 8-9, 2019, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day, at Partners auditorium, 901 S. New Hope Rd., Gastonia. Please, register online. For more information, contact Jeanne Patterson at 828-446-4936 or at jpatterson@partnersbhm.org.

Child and Family Team II Training

**Prerequisite required: CFT 1. This two-day course will prepare participants to facilitate Child and Family Team meetings across systems. Training is April 29-30, 2019, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (both days), at 901 South New Hope Rd., Gastonia, NC. This training offers a combination of reflective activities and practice skills needed to effectively facilitate CFT meetings.

**When you sign up for this training, you are agreeing to attend both days. Agency representatives and parents/family members over 18 years of age are encouraged to attend. Please, register online. For more information, contact Kim Rhoads at 828-323-8049 or krhoads@partnersbhm.org.

Darkness to Light Training

April is Prevent Child Abuse Month. In recognition of this month, we would like to invite you to attend a Darkness to Light Training. The Darkness to Light training is provided to prevent childhood sexual abuse by increasing awareness and education in communities. The training is two hours and participants are provided a certificate upon completion. You must be at least 18 years of age to take this training.

Two sessions available:

  • Tuesday, April 16, 2019, from 6-8 p.m., at Oakhill United Methodist Church. 2239 NC 181 Morganton, NC. Register online or call Oak Hill United Methodist Church at (828) 433-5308. (Church office hours are T-Th 8am-1pm, but you may call and leave a message any time.) Deadline to register is Monday, April 15.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 12-2 p.m., at Oakhill United Methodist Church. 2239 NC 181 Morganton, NC. Register online or call Oak Hill United Methodist Church at (828) 433-5308. (Church office hours are T-Th 8am-1pm, but you may call and leave a message any time.) Deadline to register is Wednesday, April 24.

For more information, email Kim Rhoads at krhoads@partnersbhm.org.

3rd Annual Iredell County Family Fest

The Iredell County Adult and Child Collaboratives invite you to kick off May is Mental Health Awareness Month with a day of fun, food, and family. This community event is on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Fairview Baptist Church, 349 Turnersburg Hwy., Statesville, NC. Family Fest is a celebration of learning, health, and our community! The goal is to provide a day to bring families and our community together and to raise awareness of the services and activities available in Iredell County. There will be information about local services that address mental health, substance abuse, and other support for our families. Bring your friends and family and enjoy over 30 vendors, local performers, a DJ, bounce houses, giveaways, food trucks, and more!

Kamp Kaleidoscope 2019

A daily summer camp dedicated to Gaston County citizens ages 7 and up with developmental disabilities. Camp Kaleidoscope is 7 1/2 weeks of safe, educational, and enriching fun, running June 19-August 8, 2019, Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, 258 W. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia (corner of Franklin and 321 North).

Kamp Activities and Curriculum Include:

  • Science and Environmental projects
  • Recreational opportunities
  • Social and Educational Community outings
  • Health and Wellness activities

Applications are available online at www.gastoncountyarc.org/kamp-kaleidoscope/. You can also contact The Arc office at 704-861-1036 or kamp@gastoncountyarc.org.

Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or jbrucato@partnersbhm.org. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.

Volume 4 – Issue 16
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