Hometown Hero - Dr. Ruth Christ Sullivan
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Southwest Louisiana native Dr. Ruth Christ Sullivan was a pioneer advocate for children and adults with autism. Sullivan passed way in September at the age of 97 and was remembered in a story by Sunday Today and the New York Times. Her work with autism made her a Hometown Hero to many.
“At the time, they said one in ten thousand were diagnosed with Autism,” recalled Geri Landry, Ruth’s sister. “So it was like a journey for her working to help her son Joe and anyone else who was diagnosed.”
Sullivan co-founded the Autism Society of America and and talked to KPLC’s Theresa Schmidt in 2014.
“When you have good advocacy, you know a lot about what needs to be done,” said Sullivan. “You know what the right thing is to do. And you make sure your staff is trained to do that with the support that they need.”
Karen Duhon’s 40 year old son Adam was born with autism and now resides in a home, thanks to Dr. Sullivan’s work years ago.
“Then Ruth started coming around and explaining things to us,” said Duhon. “I started going to national conferences and listening. I remember the first time I hard someone talk with autism. I thought, oh my gosh, this is amazing. She paved the road for our autism community.”
Sullivan was consulted by the producers of the movie “Rain Man” and she and her son Joseph even met with actor Dustin Hoffman.
Darcy O’Reilly’s son Brendan also has autism and is thankful for Ruth’s help.
“I had no idea where to turn, what to do. The only thing I knew of autism was the movie “Rain Man.” couldn’t comprehend beyond tomorrow, much less 20 years from now.”
“Autism on the Bayou” is a fundraiser concert for the Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana. It will be held October 15, 2021 at L’Auberge Casino Resort. Music will be by The Flamethrowers and it will be dedicated in memory of Dr. Sullivan. For tickets, call 337-436-5001.
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