RIDGWAY — April is autism awareness month.
Before it passes, Ridgway resident, behavioral health worker, musician, and mom Kathy Fair will do what she does best to raise awareness.
At Ridgway High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 30, she will hold a free recital where she will perform on flute with accompaniment from Tracy Pretak. Seven of Fair’s piano and flute students will also perform.
While music will be used to gather the crowd, the crux of the event will be to raise awareness about autism, while also informing the public about child abuse and domestic violence.
Fair said April is a month celebrating all three and as she has “a big birthday” coming up she felt she needed to do something big in the community.
However, Sunday’s event goes deeper than that.
Fair moved to the area with her husband in late 2003. Unable to find a job teaching music, despite having a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education, she began to work in the behavioral health field. She has also been teaching lessons from a home studio for decades.
“I wanted to do something that would benefit the cause that I feel I have a soft spot in my heart with,” Fair said. “These are definitely causes that are close to my heart and I wanted to do something significant.”
Fair is also the mother of a 28-year-old son, Christopher, who has an intellectual disorder and is also on the autism spectrum.
According to Autism Speaks, 1 in 68 children are identified as having autism.
Fair said for her family, the struggle to get to the diagnosis was difficult. Her son wasn’t born with autism, rather he had a regression after an ear tube surgery when he was two years old. After three years and countless trips to major medical centers, it was determined he had autism.
He now lives in a group home in DuBois.
While free, any donations raised Sunday will go to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities, as well as Citizens Against Physical, Sexual & Emotional Abuse, a local agency dedicated to providing a myriad of services to victims of abuse.
The Elk County Autism Support Group will also be on hand to speak and provide information to concert goers.
“What I want people to know is that autism is actually more common than you think,” Fair said. “The general population needs to be aware there are these very talented individuals who may be very good workers and very good at what they do but may not have the social skills.”