UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - April is Autism Awareness Month. About 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of autism, and the number is still rising.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects verbal and non-verbal communications and social interactions.
Over the past few years, there have been plenty of advancements in Autism research and understanding, but there is still a long way to go.
One local family is hoping to raise awareness about living life with autism.
12 year old Angelina Casile has Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Her mother Maureen says Angelina showed signs of Asperger's early on, but they had to jump through hoops to get a diagnosis.
Like many people with Asperger's, Angelina is smart and at the top of her class. But her mother worries about next year, when she moves from 6th grade to junior high.
"Our society is set up in such a way that people who can't perform socially have a much harder time...it's much harder to reach your full potential," she says.
Angelina met her best friend last year at a summer camp run by the Kelberman Center in Utica, an organization that works with autistic people and their families.
Tammy Thomas of the Kelberman Center says in recent years, there have been a lot of advancements in autism research, but there is still a long way to go.
"There have been a lot of recent studies, but we still don't know the cause," Thomas says. "That is why we have to raise awareness."
As for Angelina, she says having Asperger's isn't a big deal. And her mother says making society more accepting of her daughter and every other person with autism, is the goal.
On April 13th, the 6th annual Faces of Autism Telethon will be held from 12p.m.- 8p.m. on WKTV.