April is national Autism Awareness Month. To raise awareness and help address the needs of families affected by autism, UD is hosting a number of events, as well as participating in the Light It Up Blue initiative.

Light It Up Blue

UD hosts events in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month


11:24 a.m., April 2, 2013--Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects as many as 1 in 50 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Although significant progress has been made over the past few years, a great deal more needs to be done in developing appropriate services and supports for children, adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum and their families.

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It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

To raise awareness and help address the needs of families affected by autism, April is recognized as national Autism Awareness Month. The University of Delaware is offering programs across campus for students, faculty, staff and the community to learn more.

UD Greeks are hosting several events this week:

Tuesday, April 2 – To spread awareness, Autism Speaks has established Light It Up Blue Day. Look for buildings around Delaware's campus to be lit up, including the Alpha Xi Delta (AXiD) House on West Main Street and several academic buildings. Using the Light It Up Blue mobile app, you can turn your own buildings blue and share with friends on social media.

AXiD will also be in the Trabant University Center handing out Autism Speaks keychains, as well as co-hosting a philanthropy event with Alpha Phi, "Are You Smarter Than a Frat Star?" in the Trabant Multipurpose Rooms from 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3 Cucina di Napoli on Main Street is donating 10 percent of the profits made all day toward Autism Speaks. Everyone is encouraged to come in, mention Alpha Xi Delta/Autism Speaks, and enjoy a delicious meal going toward a great cause.

Sunday, April 7 – From noon-2:30 p.m. at the Christiana Commons on the Laird Campus, AXiD will hold its annual 5K walk/run for Autism Speaks.

Monday, April 8 – Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity is hosting a viewing of The United States of Autism at 5 p.m. in Multipurpose Rooms A and B of the Trabant University Center. This documentary features Richard Everts’ 11,000-mile, 40-day journey across America to visit 20 families and individuals -- from Mormon to Muslim and Hispanic to Chinese -- living with autism. Cost is $3 for students with valid ID, $8 for others, with a portion of proceeds going to PUSH America and the Tommy Foundation.

Educational events

April 4 – The College of Education and Human Development and the College of Health Sciences are co-sponsoring a colloquium from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at 104 Gore Hall. Iva Obrusnikova, associate professor of behavioral health and nutrition at UD, will present on “using therapy dogs to increase physical activity and engagement levels in children with autism spectrum disorders.”

April 24 – The Delaware Department of Education and the Positive Behavior Support Project at UD’s Center for Disabilities Studies will host a workshop – Social Skills for Home

It is a myth that students on the autism/Asperger’s spectrum don’t really care about forming relationships. The reality is that they don’t understand how to interact socially, to develop relationships and friendships and require direct, explicit instruction in social thinking and practice in social skills.

By learning about the Social Thinking program, parents/caregivers and educators can teach children to understand the viewpoint of others and how their behavior impacts others.

April 29 – The Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS) is hosting a Lunchtime Learning session that will present findings from focus groups and the statewide needs assessment survey as well as share preliminary recommendations from the Delaware Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

CDS is the lead agency on Delaware’s two-year planning grant to develop a comprehensive state plan to improve services for children and adults with an ASD. This plan is expected to be released in April, outlining initiatives necessary to improve services for children and adults with ASD – providing them the with the skills and knowledge to live independent and interdependent lives within the community.

The Lunchtime Learning session, “A Blueprint for Collective Action: The Delaware Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders,” will be held from noon-1 p.m.at 461 Wyoming Road, Newark. Attendance is free, but registration is required. 

The Center for Disabilities Studies has conducted research and offered programs related to ASD for several years. These include the following:

  • Developing a computer tool that customizes language representations to document how customized graphics help youngsters who have visual processing difficulties learn language and express themselves more effectively. 
  • Creating a Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) postsecondary education program that offers students with intellectual disabilities (including ASD) the opportunity to earn a certificate from the University of Delaware.
  • Piloting social skills programs and professional development and workshops for families based on curriculum by Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Social Skills Pilot program. 
  • Conducting a Developmental Screening Outreach and Public Awareness Campaign to increase knowledge about the importance of developmental screening, helping new parents achieve an early diagnosis of ASD. 
  • For more information on programs and services available to individuals, families and caretakers of people with disabilities, visit the CDS website

    Article by Alison Burris

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