Beacon of Hope brings awareness during Autism Acceptance Month

Published 7:30 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Beacon of Hope Applied Behavior Analysis in Andalusia and Alabama Department of Mental Health are celebrating the month of April as Autism Acceptance Month.

Throughout the month, ADMH partners with the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council, the Regional Autism Network, and Autism Support of Alabama. These partnerships, along with many others, will share messages and personal stories of awareness, acceptance, and inclusivity, beginning with the signing of the Proclamation for Autism Acceptance Month by Governor Kay Ivey.

“At Beacon of Hope ABA, we work with many individuals on the Autism Spectrum in order to improve their quality of life by teaching skills they will need to be successful. Our clients range in age from two years old to 19 years old. It is important to remember that individuals with autism are as unique as any other person and have their own interests and activities they enjoy. Our clients have unique perspectives on the world and often come up with ideas that no one else would think of or notice,” Beacon of Hope ABA Owner Shelby DiPilla said.

Beacon of Hope ABA provides its services through a client-lead approach.

“This approach allows our clients to learn skills in ways that are interesting and motivating to them. We use the science of applied behavior analysis to create individualized behavior plans so that each of our clients can be their best selves and pursue a future that is based on their needs and wants. In addition to the therapy, we provide, we frequently partner up with Wiregrass Autism groups to provide sib shops, community events, and fun activities for those with autism and their families,” she said.

The Autism Society’s mission is to create connections and empower everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. According to Autism Speaks, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

According to a 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control, one in 44 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. ASD is more than four times more common among boys than among girls. More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.

Signs of autism usually appear by age two or three. Some associated developmental delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Over the years, the number of individuals diagnosed with ASD has increased, but research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.

The ADMH Office of Autism Services values the uniqueness of all individuals and strives to provide comprehensive support, serving hundreds of children and youth and their families, throughout all regions of the state. To learn more about the office and services offered, visit

ADMH leads the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (AIACC), which was created to meet the urgent and substantial need to develop and implement a statewide comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Beacon of Hope will be sponsoring the 2023 Autism Acceptance Festival at Bates Stadium in Enterprise on Saturday, April 22, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Autism Group and Autism Support of Alabama will serve as hosts for the event. Additional information is on the Wiregrass Autism Group Facebook page.

The Regional Autism Network (RAN) is supported by the AIACC and consists of five universities that serve as hubs for professional training programs, technical assistance and consultation services, direct assistance, and public education programs. The RAN is staffed by experts in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The RAN networks are housed at Auburn University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and University of South Alabama. Each Regional Autism Network strives to connect people with ASD, their families, educators, and service providers to the information and/or services that best meet their needs.

“We would like to encourage our community to learn more about autism spectrum disorder, especially since it is estimated to affect one out of every 36 children. Come join us and support these incredible individuals,” PiDilla said.

Many events take place in the month of April to celebrate individuals with ASD, their families, and professionals who work in the field. Alabamians will take part in the virtual or community “Every Step Matters Walk for Autism” in support of the one in 44 individuals affected by autism. Registration is open at

The Beacon of Hope clinic in Andalusia is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is located at 109 O’Neal Court. For more information email or call Beacon of Hope at 334-477-4686.