Twin girls with autism get special gift from CNY zoo

Local News

UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)- April is Autism Awareness month and for many families with children on the spectrum, their lives are different almost everyday.

Rachel Latendress from Oneida County has four-year-old twin daughters, Luna and Hazel, who were recently diagnosed with autism. “They both have a lot of sensory issues. They have a hard time with loud noises. Luna more so than Hazel, she can’t handle a lot of people, or a lot of sunlight. If kids are loud or the dog is barking, she can’t handle the dog barking, whereas Hazel, she doesn’t understand that some people don’t want to be touched.”

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to interact and communicate, but it’s important to note each individual is different. In early April, Latendress and her husband took their daughters to the Utica Zoo. ”When we were going to the other side of the zoo, and my husband and I agreed to buy strollers to get them through the rest of the zoo, we got the strollers and we got about 15 feet back into the zoo, and they were done, they did not like the strollers they were screaming!”

Latendress says people were staring at them as they walked out. On their way out, the executive director for the zoo gave them passes to come back at a time that was more comfortable for them. “It felt like we weren’t so alone in parenting and just loving them, I mean we know plenty of people who also have kids on the spectrum, but for someone I don’t know to acknowledge them as more than just being autistic and for someone else to just care that they had a bad day and not know them is really nice.”

The Central New York Autism Society is having a walk for what they’re calling Autism Acceptance month, to raise awareness for autism. To register: https://cnyasa.org/events

North Syracuse Police Department officers wearing special patches for Autism Awareness Month

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