April is World Autism Awareness Month. At HDS Companies, we kicked off the month by participating in Autism Speak’s Signature Event “Light It Up Blue” on Monday, April 2, 2018. Everyone in the HDS offices wore blue, showing our support and helping garner greater understanding and acceptance of those affected by Autism. The offices were also decorated in blue, with HDS and LIUB signs made out of blue lightbulbs, and other fun blue decorations adorning the walls.

In the afternoon, the employees gathered in the conference rooms to start the festivities. Blue puzzle piece lollipops, blue chocolate candies in lightbulbs, scrumptious cupcakes, and yummy packaged treats were distributed to everyone as part of the fun. Carla Otiniano, Program Manager of the HDS Foundation, opened the gathering by telling everyone how they could help spread the word of World Autism Awareness Month. She had selfie-signs available to all employees so they could take picture of themselves, post them to their personal social media accounts, and help spread the word. Cristina Gilson, CEO of HDS Companies, also spoke about the day and how excited she was with the participation and comradery of the employees.

Yessenia, an employee of the Miami office whose youngest child is affected by autism, said about the day, “Autism Awareness Month means a lot to me, being that I have a little boy with autism. I know the daily struggles of an autistic child. Bringing awareness to autism is an extremely important factor in life because this would help not only in being able to gain more studies and assistance for people on the spectrum. It also would help them immensely with their everyday life, such as going to a supermarket and people knowing and understanding how to approach them and interact with them. It would help in school settings, for other children to understand and help them interact with those on the spectrum without thinking they’re weird or incapable just because there different. I personally have known what it is to have to remove my child from a daycare only because they don’t understand him and feel they can’t deal with him. Therefore, I believe autism awareness month is so important, because more and more people are learning about the spectrum and people on the spectrum. One-day I am hopeful that everyone will know and understand Autism!”

Fun was had by everyone. Promoting Autism Awareness will continue at HDS throughout the month. If you would like to participate, take a selfie with the Autism Speaks selfie sign (available at https://www.autismspeaks.org/wam/how-to-liub) and tag it “LightItUpBlue!