Yampa Valley Autism Program hosting Wednesday event | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Autism Program hosting Wednesday event

Luke Graham

— On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a startling fact.

One in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder, a 30 percent increase from two years ago.

And the rate in Routt County is just as high, with about 1 in 65 children.

"We need to increase awareness and have enough professionals to meet the needs," said Lisa Lorenz, the new executive director for the Yampa Valley Autism Program.

Lorenz and the Yampa Valley Autism Program will host a Light It Up Blue event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

The event takes place on National Autism Awareness Day and will feature other agencies and service providers from the community.

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Lorenz said it's a great opportunity to network and find out more information about autism.

"We're asking as many agencies in the Yampa Valley to come," she said. "We want to provide information to people on what services they offer."

In addition to the event, Natural Grocers in Steamboat will donate 5 percent of its sales Wednesday to the Yampa Valley Autism Program.

Nutritional health coach Alicia McLeod also will host a session about nutrition and autism at 5:30 p.m. April 17.

"Autism has a lot of nutritional links," McLeod said.

McLeod said nutritional education can help with dealing with autism. She said it's important to understand what foods and supplements can help the disorder.

"There is a world of food, and with autism, people have to understand and personalize that to their child," McLeod said.

For Lorenz, the event will highlight the services available in town as well as the high incident rate in Steamboat.

Lorenz will be taking over executive director duties from LuEtta Loeber. Loeber will remain with the organization as the board treasurer.

Lorenz, who taught science and math at Steamboat Springs Middle School for 19 years, was one of the founding members of the organization 12 years ago.

The Yampa Valley Autism Program began with other moms and was a informal support group. Seven years ago, it became an official organization and, eventually, a nonprofit.

Lorenz is excited for the new opportunity and said Wednesday’s event will be a good way to connect the community.

"With my experience in education and community connections and what I know about autism, it was a great fit," she said.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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