Betty Bennish knew she had the contacts she needed to line up entertainment for the benefit concerts. Her decision to promote jazz concerts in her own city — Huntington Beach — resulted in BB Jazz, a nonprofit organization she and her husband formed nearly eight years ago to "get music to people" and give money to autism research.
BB Jazz puts on a series of jazz concerts at the Huntington Beach Library Theater, booking well-known and aspiring musicians from February through April. The last concert of the series will be this Saturday at the Huntington Beach Central Library.
In June, July and August there are concerts at the Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, and the winery donates a portion of all the money they raise to BB Jazz to support autism research.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and although more is known about this disorder now than what was known years ago, there is more that needs to be done.
Bennish's sister, longtime Huntington Beach resident Diane Adams Rehrig, had expressed concern when Sonic — her only child — still wasn't speaking at the age of 2, so Bennish advised her to have his hearing checked, knowing that not being able to hear sometimes caused a delay in the development of speech patterns in children his age.
His hearing turned out to be fine, and according to Bennish, "time passed, and when he went to his first nursery school, they picked up on it right away — that there was an issue."
The diagnosis of autism soon followed, but surprisingly, Bennish says, a doctor basically told her sister, "Go home — he'll grow out of it."
Not according to the Autism Society of America, which defines autism as a neurological disorder affecting a child's ability to speak and interact with other people and their surroundings.