IUP Groups Co-Sponsor Annual Autism Awareness Week Events

Posted on 4/7/2016 2:20:44 PM

A number of events are planned on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus to raise awareness about autism during Autism Awareness Week 2016. The theme is “Shine a Light on Autism; Light it Up Blue.”

Students apply blue cellophane to residence hall windows to light campus blue for Autism Awareness MonthApril is national autism awareness month. Bright blue is a color used to symbolize autism awareness.

Events, all free and open to the community, include:

"Pin it Blue" Awareness Tables

April 18, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Hadley Union Building, Stapleton Library, Ackerman Hall, Davis Hall, and residence halls

For this event, volunteers helping out with Autism Awareness Week will be spread across campus at tables passing out pins and two-sided sheets with an infographic and list of events for the week. In addition, each station will be equipped with puzzle pieces and markers so persons may write on the pieces how autism has impacted them, someone they know, or just show their support for autism awareness. The puzzle pieces will then be collected and displayed in a public location on campus where they can be viewed for the month of April.

"Autism the Musical"

April 19, 6:00 p.m.

Beard Auditorium, Stouffer Hall

Joann Migyanka, a professor in the IUP Department of Communication Disorders, Special Education and Disability Services, will show this film and then lead a discussion about the film. Migyanka has done research and received grant funding for projects associated with autism and educating first responders on how to deal with individuals with autism.

"Shine a Light on Autism" Panel Discussion

April 20, 6:00 p.m.

Delaware Room, Hadley Union Building

Panelists will discuss autism and take questions from persons in the audience. Panelists include Diane Shinberg, associate professor of sociology who also serves as an officer of the Disability and Society Section of the American Sociology Association; Laura Knight, professor of sociology, who studies the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders; Sarah Brown, a faculty  member in Child Development and Family Relations; and Todd Van Weiren from the Office of Disability Support Service. The panel will be facilitated by Maddie Nissel, who served on the panel in 2015.

Autism Awareness Photoshoot

April 21, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Delaware Room, Hadley Union Building and Stapleton Library lobby

The photoshoot event is a continuation of the 2015 events. Students, staff, and faculty will be able to come in get their faces painted and then can get their pictures with a variety of signs made by the students to show support for autism awareness. Event organizers plan to post the photos on the Autism Awareness page so that people can gain access to them later, and turn the photos into a collage that is shaped like a puzzle piece.

"Light it Up Blue" Autism Awareness Walk

April 22, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Putt Hall-Delaney Hall courtyard

Before the walk, tables will be set up for face painting as well as a table with pins that people can get and wear during the walk. Cathy Dugan, director of the IUP Office of Disability Support Services, will open the pre-walk program and introduce event organizers and co-chairs Robert Matchett and Oktober Appleby. After the walk, Sondra Dennison from the Office of Housing, Residential Living, and Dining will speak, and Matchett and Appleby will close the event with their remarks.

Several student groups at IUP are co-sponsoring Autism Awareness Month activities on campusMatchett, of Pittsburgh, is a dual disability services and sociology major with a minor in educational psychology. He is the 2015 recipient of IUP’s Ray Coppler Disability Awareness Award. This is his second year to organize Autism Awareness Week events. He is also a member of IUP’s Sign Language Club and Phi Sigma Pi honor society and is president of Delta Alpha Pi honor society, established to recognize the academic achievements of students with disabilities.

Appleby, of Latrobe, is a dual major in disability services and child development and family relations, and is a member of Phi Sigma Pi honor society and the IUP Child and Famiiy Studies Association.

More than 1,300 people participated in the 2015 Autism Awareness Week events; Matchett hopes to increase the number of participants this year. The event won the Phi Sigma Pi: C.H. McClure Single Service Award in 2015, presented to a collegiate chapter for an outstanding service project by the national council. The Eta Chapter at IUP hopes to continue its superior quality of service with this year's Autism Awareness Event, Matchett said.

To raise awareness, committee members and volunteers from the sponsoring organizations have put blue cellophane on windows in several of the campus’s residential buildings to “light up the campus blue” and have created t-shirts, available for sale. The t-shirts include a quote from Temple Grandin, “You always have to keep persevering.” Grandin, an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, is a world-renowned autism spokesperson and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior.

During the month of April, the group is working with the Camp Lakey Gap, a summer camp for children and adults on the autism spectrum located in Black Mountain, N.C. to raise funds and collect supplies for the campers and to create cards for the campers. Funds are being raised through donations and t-shirt sales. Shirts will be sold at all events.

Sponsors for the 2016 Autism Awareness Week events include Phi Sigma Pi: National Gender Inclusive Honor Fraternity; Delta Alpha Pi National Honor Society; IUP Office of Housing, Residential Living, and Dining; IUP Advising and Testing Center; IUP Child and Family Studies Association; Council for Exceptional Children; and the IUP Sign Language Club.

PHOTO INFORMATION (student hanging cellophane):  from left, Ashley Garonzi, Chelsea Warner, and Jill Bender.

Group photo: From left, front row: Ashley Taylor-Fahnestock, Jena Keating, Lizzie Gardner, Dillon Hogg, Aubrey Keperling; from left, second row: Anieadi Antiaobong, Nicole Montesi, Oktober Appleby, Rob Matchett, Chelsea Warner, Ashley Garonzi; from left, third row: Jill Bender, Nhaemeka Ekch, Lataya Elder, Adam Grutkowski, and Ryan McClintock.