Autism group to meet in Elizabethtown

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Autism Society of North Carolina is reaching out to Bladen County families to gauge if interest exists for an autism support group.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the Society will host a meeting at the Bladen County Public Library’s main branch in Elizabethtown for the purpose of providing a place for families to share both the joys and challenges of supporting a loved one with autism. The special guest will be Teresa Mebane, autism resource specialist with the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Mebane is the mother of three children on the autism spectrum and has 17 years as an autism resource specialist. The Q&A session with her could address topics like local resources and supports, education and the IEP process, and service eligibility.

Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a group of developmental disabilities that are typically associated with challenges of varying severity in the areas of social interaction, communication, and repetitive/restricted behaviors. The spectrum includes disorders that used to be categorized on their own, like Asperger’s syndrome.

ASD is a brain disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects individuals with it in varying degrees. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 59 children in North Carolina will be diagnosed with autism, compared to 1 in 68 children nationally. Researchers have no definitive reason for the greater prevalence in the state of the disorder, which affects more than 65,000 people statewide.

According to the Autism Society of North Carolina, no one knows the cause of ASD, and research is ongoing. Possible culprits include physical problems with the brain, chemical imbalances, environmental factors, genetics, or any combination of those.

While autism is more prevalent in boys than in girls — by a factor of five — it is not linked to any racial, ethnic, social, financial, lifestyle, or educational level of the family.

Signs and symptoms of ASD include:

— Language deficits or differences

— Repetetive behaviors

— Lack of understanding of change in their daily activities

— Unusual interest in a small number of subjects

— Not looking at objects when someone else points at them

— Inability to relate to others or show interest in them

— Avoiding eye contact

— Isolation

— Trouble with feelings (theirs or others)

— Prefer not to be touched or only when they want

— Laugh, cry or show distress for no apparent reason

— Oversentitivy or undersentitivity to pain

There will be no childcare provided for the interest meeting. The event will take place Thursday, Nov. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 111 N. Cypress St. in Elizabethtown.

For questions or to find out more about the Autism Society of North Carolina, contact Jamie Thomasson at or call 704-807-2714.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal