BAKER, La. (BRPROUD) – Children who have been diagnosed with autism may struggle with feelings of isolation and wonder why they feel so “different” from their peers. 

One woman who was diagnosed with autism when she was a teenager said, “Growing up, I had few friends… because I didn’t understand life the way my peers did, I was bullied from elementary school to high school, which eventually left me with a lot of emotional scarring.”

Neurodivergent children (an umbrella term that refers to anyone who has a developmental condition or disorder that affects brain processing) who are trying to fit into a neurotypical (those who do not have developmental conditions or disorders that affect brain processing) world may often find themselves feeling like they’re always on the outside, looking in. 

It can seem like the aspects of their personality that make them different lead to loneliness. 

But one Baker-based nonprofit is proving that an autism diagnosis is not synonymous with loneliness, and that our differences should be celebrated. 

Miranda Georgetown-Riley leads The Magnolia Rose Foundation, which is a non-profit that aims to promote inclusion and encourage acknowledgment of developmental differences.

Riley says that when she noticed a limited number of Baton Rouge-based organizations that provide fun, extracurricular activities for autistic children and children with developmental disabilities, she decided to do something about it. 

She organized the 3K Rose Run for Autism Acceptance in Baker on April 30, and was delighted to see that it was very well supported. 

Not only did Mayor Darnell Waites attend, but representatives from the Baker Fire Department, and East Baton Rouge Parish Library participated as well. 

Riley addressed the crowd of attendees, thanking them for their support, and emphasizing the Magnolia Rose Foundation’s motto, which is, “Normalizing autism in children one playdate at a time.”

Autism has been defined as a developmental disorder that impacts the nervous system and can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021 studies indicated that approximately 1 in 44 children in the U.S. had been diagnosed with autism. 

Click here for additional information on the Magnolia Rose Foundation.