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UIndy hosts Autism Awareness week

Posted on 03.27.2013

According to the Autism Society, 60 people are diagnosed with autism every day, and their families have no clear path to treat the symptoms of this complex condition. To do something about this situation, senior social work major Dana Cullom, president of UIndy Act for Autism, has planned events for the first week of April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.

On April 2, National Autism Awareness Day, students, faculty and staff can participate in an autism walk held on campus that will start at 8:30 p.m. The walk will take place at night, and participants are encouraged to bring glowsticks in accordance to its theme, “Glow in the Dark.” Participants will receive a free T-shirt.

Students can sign up just before the walk begins or in advance at the UIndy Act for Autism table that will be set up in the Schwitzer Student Center Atrium during lunch hours from March 26 to 28. There is an entrance fee of $5 that will be donated to the Easter Seals Crossroads organization.

Act for Autism is a branch of the Easter Seals organization. Founded almost 90 years ago, Easter Seals assists and advocates for people with disabilities and special needs. According to the organization’s website, “Easter Seals offers help, hope and answers to more than a million children and adults living with autism and other disabilities or special needs and their families each year.”

Students unable to participate in the walk still have plenty of other opportunities to be a part of the cause. Janette Smith from the Autism Society of Indiana will speak about autism awareness on April 3, with L/P credit available.

Mental health counselor Aaron Moore speaks for the nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms. His March 20 speech discussed mental health issues and how to help friends and family struggling with them. Photo by contributed by Amanda McErlean.

After Smith’s speech, the campus community is invited to head over to the Buffalo Wild Wings in Greenwood, off Emerson. That day only, the restaurant will donate a percentage of its sales to UIndy Act for Autism. In order to have that portion donated, interested students, faculty and staff will need to inform their server.

Lastly, UIndy Act for Autism has invited Gigi’s Cupcake Truck to come to campus April 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside Schwitzer Student Center. Ten percent of all cupcake sales also will be donated to Easter Seals Crossroads.

Cullom said that she hopes people will come to the events both to raise awareness and clear up misconceptions about autism. She wants students to come and participate in these events, not only to have fun, but also to help the cause.

“Autism affects more kids than childhood cancer and diabetes combined,” Cullom said. “Also, autism is more prevalent in boys than girls.”

Cullom said that autism always has been an important issue in her life, growing up with two brothers who have autism. This inspired Cullom to open her own chapter of Act for Autism at UIndy two years ago.

According to the Autism Society, 1 in 88 children is affected by autism, which means more than likely students know at least one person who has been affected.


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