Pieceful Solutions, a K-12 school for children with autism spectrum disorders, commemorated Autism Awareness Month with a celebratory sunrise event today at its Chandler campus, Thursday, April 2 (World Autism Awareness Day), starting at 6 a.m.

Faculty members, families, students and community supporters gathered to increase awareness about the increasing number of children in Arizona with autism. They formed a human-ribbon on the outdoor field of the school’s Chandler campus, with everyone dressed in blue, a symbolic color used by the international autism community to commemorate the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Day.

“The number of children with autism continues to rise, and Arizona is at the top of the list,” said Kami Cothrun, Founder of Pieceful Solutions. “Parents deserve to know about the many different school solutions available to them, especially when one out of every 50 children born today has autism.”

Bashas’ Family of Stores donated coffee, blueberry yogurt and custom-made blue donuts for everyone to enjoy during the sunrise festivities. Pieceful Solutions Music Therapist Ryan Olmstead and his garage band of students also held a special performance.

Sparkle Magic, a local company that has mastered the art of innovative laser-lighting, donated lighting to turn Pieceful Solutions’ three school campuses (in Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert) blue during the entire month of April.

Pieceful Solutions Culinary Instructor Colleen Poiani has also encouraged students to participate in fun, hands-on food activities including how to make blueberry banana smoothies, gluten-free vanilla cupcakes and gluten-free sugar cookies. The cookies are made in the shape of a puzzle piece, a symbol that reflects the mystery and complexity of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Chef Colleen at Pieceful Solutions enjoys teaching students and their parents about how to use better-for-you ingredients to help maximize health and reduce allergies. “Children with autism often excel in the culinary arts, as they enjoy following exact instructions on a recipe, and can apply their math skills to measure ingredients,” she said.