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      Light It Up Blue campaign sparks autism awareness

      People are "Lighting It Up Blue" all across Amarillo and around the world for World Autism Awareness Day.

      Local groups like Amarillo Area Autism in Action and Home Depot are getting involved by helping you light your house up blue with specially marked blue bulbs and lanterns you can purchase at Home Depot. Home Depot will donate one dollar from every one of those purchases and donate it to Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization.

      Autism Speaks released new statistics in March reporting a new child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes.

      "One out of every 54 boys is affected by autism, one out of 88 children and one out of 252 girls. They're starting tos creen children at six months for signs and symptoms of autism." said Alanna Hepler, Director of Social Services for Specialized Therapy Services. "It's not going away, it's here and we need to learn about it so we know how to help our children."

      The best way anyone can help is by being education and continuing to promote awareness, Hepler, who is also the mother of an autistic child, said.

      "We live it 24/7 but maybe for just one day, if you could just be aware if the struggles and the differences and the beautiful things that are autism and open your eyes to it and embrace it," she added.

      But why the color blue to promote autism awareness? Hepler claimed it was because of the name autistic children are often referred to as -- indigo children.

      "70 percent of our children here at the clinic have autism," she said. "I would say 65 percent of those children have the most stunning blue eyes you've ever seen. Now, is there a connection?", asked Hepler. "I don't know."

      Either way, it's important for everyone to "Light It Up Blue" for autism awareness.

      "We have the day to remember our children and honor our children."

      Awareness will continue throughout the month of April with the Autism Awareness Walk. The walk will be held at Sam Houston Park on April 21, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m. For more information about the Light It Up Blue Campaign or the Autism Awareness Walk, call (806) 458-9400.