Louisiana Tech’s Center for Children and Families in the School of Human Ecology is sponsoring a panel event to discuss autism during the next session of the 21st Bruce Everist Series.

The event, “Understanding the World of Autism: Children, Families, Teachers and Community” will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the Ruston Civic Center. Panel members will include Holly York from the Autism Learning Center in Monroe; Lynda Huggins, the founding member of the Northeast Louisiana Chapter of Autism Society; Gina Jones, an attorney at law; Dr. Candace F. Moak, member of Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and Dr. Tonya Slusher, also a member of Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Approximately 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with autism. According to the Autism Society of America, “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”

In February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the prevalence of autism had risen to one in every 150 American children, and almost one in 94 boys.

However, autism is treatable. Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.

The Center for Children and Families is an interdisciplinary initiative of the School of Human Ecology. Its mission is to improve the well-being of children, youth and families in north Louisiana through educational programs, collaborative research and service activities. One major educational program is the Bruce Everist Series, an endowment established in 1985 by the Ruston Junior Auxiliary in honor of the late Dr. Bruce Everist, a local pediatrician who served this community for almost half a century.

This panel discussion is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event, contact one of the co-chairs of the Center for Children and Families: Dr. Jan Colvin at (318) 257-2713 or Dr. Janie Humphries at (318) 257- 4456.

Written by Judith Roberts