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Autism Society of the Black Hills

Editor's note: Helping Hands is a new weekly series profiling nonprofits in western South Dakota. 

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Autism Society of the Black Hills is doing its part to spread awareness.

The Autism Society of the Black Hills has been improving the lives of those affected by autism since 1997. ASBH envisions a world where individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, are treated with the highest level of dignity and live in a society where their talents and skills are appreciated and valued.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 59 children in the U.S. is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. ASBH works with over 200 families in western South Dakota associated with an autistic, Asperger's or Pervasive Development Disorder individual to have access to support groups, meetings, additional information and resources. They provide advocacy, education, information and referral and support at the national, state and local levels.

ASBH hosts several programs to help families of autistic individuals incorporate social and communication skills. Programs include a winter swimming program and summer exploring sports, Sensory Music Time, day camps and Lego robotics. They also host a monthly Autism support group called Sensory Jump at 6 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Jump Craze.

“It’s a good way for the kids to get involved and have fun. Jump Craze lowers the lights and music and people can bring their kids and have the opportunity to talk with other parents,” said Amber Adams, ASBH president.

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Their largest event is the Uniquely You 5K. This is the main fundraiser for the society's summer programs and all proceeds benefit the organization. The fifth annual run takes place April 27 at Founders Park. The theme is “Illumination.”

Last year’s event raised over $5,000. Participants can register at raceentry.com/uniquely-you-illumination-5k/race-information. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children. Sponsorship opportunities are also available for individuals and local businesses that want to get involved.

In addition to attending events, people can give monetary donations and volunteer their time. Helping to spread awareness is the most important and effective ways to help.

“We have a lot of people already that are donating items for our summer camp and that are helping to spread awareness and acceptance of those on the autism spectrum. We need more of that,” Adams said.

For more information, call 415-6582 or visit autismsd.org.

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