BOSTON, MA - As part of Major League Baseball's new effort to recognize Autism Awareness Month, the Boston Red Sox this Sunday will provide special opportunities and an innovative, safe, friendly environment for families affected by autism. 

During pre-game ceremonies before their game against the Houston Astros at 1:35 p.m., children on the autism spectrum will act as honorary bat kids, throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and be the "Little Star" guest public address announcers during the top of the 2nd inning. All of the children participating in Sunday's pre-game ceremony are from Maine, as the Red Sox also celebrate Maine Day presented by LL Bean.

The club worked with the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, to provide families affected by autism with tickets to the game, and information about what they can expect and how to prepare. The club is also designating the new Champions Club, located behind right field, as a "quiet zone" if they need a respite from the loud sounds of the ballpark.

"For many families in the autism community, the simple activities that typical families are able to participate in seem out of the reach," said Larry Cancro, Red Sox Senior Vice President of Fenway Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks. "With the Red Sox' help, families dealing with autism can enjoy Fenway Park the way other New England families do."

This year, Major League Baseball teamed up with Autism Speaks to recognize Autism Awareness Month in April. Each of the 30 clubs has designated a home game to help raise autism awareness. 

On April 2, Fenway Park was among the more than 7,000 iconic landmarks around the world participating in "Light It Up Blue," a campaign launched by Autism Speaks in 2010 to raise awareness for the cause.

The Red Sox' promotion of autism awareness started in 2001, when the club supported the first fundraiser of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). In 2005, NAAR merged with a new organization formed by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, to create Autism Speaks. The Red Sox Foundation has made donations, and the club has supported marketing, advertising, and promotional efforts.