Annual autism conference held in columbia (USE THIS)

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COLUMBIA - The community will get a chance to learn more about autism Wednesday morning.

The annual Columbia Autism Conference, hosted by Easterseals Midwest, will feature workshops and speakers dedicated to educating the community on autism spectrum disorders.

The conference series will start at 8:30 a.m. at Drury Plaza Hotel Columbia East and end at 4:15 p.m. 

Jamie Fitzgerald, director of Easterseals Midwest's central region, said the conference was designed to help give resources to Missouri families, the community and professionals. 

"It just passes on a lot of information and a lot of awareness about autism in a way that the community can help and support individuals with autism," she said. 

In Missouri, one in 71 8-year-old children were identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC. 

"The conference has a lot of strategies that parents can take home and use with kids," Fitzgerald said. "Professionals can use a lot of strategies and information that they've learned to help with what they're doing."

Fitzgerald said autism is a spectrum.

"Every family that comes, every professional is kind of looking for different things to help a different individual, and so we try to provide a wide variety of resources about a lot of different topics." Fitzgerald said.

According to a press release, families who receive services from Easterseals Midwest are eligible for two free tickets to the conference.

Tickets are $20 each for additional family members and community members. For a professional to attend, tickets are $80.

This conference is a part of the Easterseals Midwest Autism Conference Series around the state. The next two conferences will be held in Kansas City and St. Louis.