Today: Mar 01, 2024

High hopes for string of events to produce autism awareness

Elizabeth Dishian Staff Writer

Southern is only at the beginning of organizing autism awareness events that call for stu­dent involvement, according to Kim Freeman, graduate student and employee at The Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Through our events we can gain a bigger following of students who want to remain informed and potentially be involved in future activities on campus,” Freeman said.

The Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders has high hopes—hopes that the events will bring a higher level of awareness about autism to the students, she said.

“Everyone knows that autism exists and they don’t need us to tell them that,” Freeman said. “My hope is that we can provide answers to the questions people have and deliver reliable informa­tion about what autism spectrum disorders are really about and how we can support individuals and families of individuals on the spectrum.”

Jacob VanHeest, sophomore communications major, said not enough students at Southern know about autism spectrum disorders.

“I think it would be nice if seminars were offered telling the symptoms or signs of autism so that the student body could recognize them,” VanHeest said, “and understand why [a per­son with autism] might act the way they do and could be more understanding.”

Freeman said people know that the diagnosis rates of autism are extremely high; they tend to talk about the rates increasing.

“While they are important numbers,” she said, “it is my per­sonal belief that the best way to spend our time talking about this issue is in terms of what we can do now to improve the lives of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders.”

Information tables were set up in the Adanti Student Center on April 2, for National Autism Awareness Day. Freeman said students and staff members alike stopped by the tables to ask ques­tions about making donations and to share their stories about their experiences with autism.

“We weren’t even there to col­lect donations and people were coming over to ask where they could donate money or their time,” she said. “It is clear that there are people on the SCSU campus who really care.”

Freeman said she thinks the center has received “a great amount of support” so far in their outreach with autism events on campus.

“Students from all academic concentrations have contacted the center with offers to help or with questions about how they can be involved and lend support,” Free­man said.

Creating new and fun infor­mational events might get more students at Southern involved, according to Lindsay Stanton, senior nursing major.

“I don’t think there are enough of us that have knowledge about autism,” Stanton said.

According to Stan­ton, the center should host an autism aware­ness event in the aca­demic quad that would give away free T-shirts because more students would attend the event if prizes were offered, but then stay because of the information they were receiving.

VanHeest said the center needs to “spark people’s interest” for their upcoming events on autism awareness.

“They have to be creative with their approach [to get students involved],” he said.

The Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders is asking students to join their team for the ASRC Walk and Run for Autism on May 6, in Wallingford, according to Freeman.

“If anyone is interested in joining our team, they can contact the center,” Freeman said. “We are hoping to have a great turn out and really have the SCSU community represented at this event.”

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