On Wednesday, March 26, at 5 p.m. the Memphis Tigers softball team will play Lipscomb University at the Tigers Softball Complex in a game benefiting the Autism Society of the Mid-South. Admission to the game is free. Fans can participate in a special "Glow It Up Blue" ceremony during the 4th inning. Glow sticks will be given to the first 150 fans at the game.
Every day 130 children are diagnosed with neural development disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior. Senior softball player Libby Goranson understands this fact well because her brother, Ryan who is just 19 months younger, was diagnosed with autism.
"He went to a preschool at church and the director could tell he was not socially involved with the other students there," said Libby's father, Roger Goranson. "We actually had someone from the state come in and test Ryan, and we knew from that point on that he did have autism."
Like many disorders we see in society, autism does not have a cause or a cure. The symbol for autism, a puzzle piece, is a perfect representation of the how it fits into individual lives and society. This passion that Libby had for softball and her relationship with her brother has sparked a deep interest in raising awareness for autism through sport. Ryan attends each of Libby's home softball games, and the team, along with the fans, love him.
"Libby has taken it upon herself to get the Autism Awareness game started with the University of Memphis and the local groups that are helping," Roger said. "We are really appreciative of that."
"I just saw this as a great opportunity," Libby said. "I actually came up with the idea a few years ago but I felt like since this is my last year I really wanted to do something that was going to impact people other than just the people at this university." Another symbol from the Autism Speaks organization that promotes awareness for the disorder is a promotion called "Light Up Blue Day."
"They have cities around the world joining in," Libby said. "Different cities will light up some of their biggest buildings in blue at nightfall just to raise awareness. That is kind of where we got the idea to have glow sticks in blue at the game."
This game "Glow It Up Blue" is a perfect example and reminder of how autism affects not just one person but a whole family, a community.
The Autism Society of the Mid-South is a leading voice and resource of the autism community in education, advocacy, and support. The Autism Society of the Mid-South is committed to meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. The Autism Society of the Mid-South accomplishes its ongoing mission through close collaboration with a successful network of chapters, members and supporters.