Alpha Delta Pi sponsors Autism Awareness Week
The Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi) sorority is sponsoring Autism Awareness Week from Monday, Oct. 29 through Friday, Nov. 2. The week’s activities offer several ways for the Centre community to get involved.
“As of right now, one in every 88 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with autism,” says Natalie Pope ’13, a member of ADPi who was involved in bringing Autism Awareness Week to Centre. “A ton of people are in some way touched by autism—whether it’s a cousin, brother, sister, a friend’s brother or sister, people in the community or even a peer with a milder form. We want to teach people how to be inclusive of others with autism.”
Autism is a spectrum disorder, and affected people range from the severely handicapped to those who function well in society—and there has been a huge increase in diagnosis of children with autism. Pope hopes Autism Awareness Week will prepare people for interacting with this large portion of the population with autism.
“In fact, most people who have autism are youth. My brother is 21, on the older end of this population explosion,” Pope says. “Right now, many youth with autism are still protected by their families, or are secluded in special education classes. What happens after that? They’ll be flooding into mainstream society, and people need to be aware of how to interact with them.”
A booth will be set up outside Cowan throughout the week to give students, faculty and staff a chance to learn about autism and support the cause. Pamphlets with information about autism will be available there, as will blue ribbons everyone is encouraged to wear throughout the week as a symbol of support. Donations towards autism awareness may be made at the booth as well.
“Money raised throughout the week for autism awareness will be donated to Wilderness Trace, which has programs specifically geared towards children with autism,” Pope says. “We’re happy that the funds raised will stay within the immediate community.”
Tables in Cowan will also have puzzle pieces in colors representing autism awareness—blue, yellow, red and teal—that students can sign to endorse autism awareness. At the end of the week, the puzzle will be put together to show community support for the issue.
The Twisted Sifter will offer a special autism awareness cupcake throughout the week and will donate five percent of the week’s proceeds to the cause.
A booth will also be set up at CARE Trick or Treat from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 on West Walnut Street along Greek Row.
Cowan will have an autism trivia night from 6-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30. A representative from Parsons Student Health Center will act as moderator, and prizes will be awarded those who answer the most questions correctly.
On Wednesday, Oct. 31, members of the Centre community are encouraged to wear blue instead of the usual Halloween colors to show support for autism awareness.
A forum called “Faces of Autism” will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1 in the Ewen Room of the Campus Center. A panel of community members will speak about what it’s like to live with autism on a daily basis, and those attending will be welcome to ask questions.
Lorri Unumb, a leading autism rights lawyer for Autism Speaks, will deliver a convocation address called “Autism Rights, Human Rights: The Legality of Autism” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 in Young 113. Unumb will share her experiences advocating for autism insurance reform and other autism-related legal issues.
“Lorri has worked in states across the country to help communities advocate and pass autism reform legislature,” Pope says. “Insurance companies often write out autism so it’s not coverable by the company, which is devastating to families who need availability to programs and therapy. She’s helped change so much—particularly in Kentucky. She’s had a huge impact.”
Pope hopes Autism Awareness Week will shed light on a disorder that touches the lives of many.
“Autism has too much of a presence for people to be ignorant about it,” she says. “We want to help people learn how to be sensitive to the issues, and help people understand their peers. Awareness will teach people how to be tolerant.”