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Autism Speaks U “Light It Up Blue” LIVE Q&A Transcript

February 17, 2012 2 comments

On Thursday, February 16, our Autism Speaks U team hosted a LIVE Facebook Q&A for college students across the country. We discussed Light It Up Blue, World Autism Awareness Day, awareness/fundraising event ideas and shared links to awareness and promotions resources. If you were unable to join,  read below for the full transcript. Visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U for more information.

4:59
Hi everyone, thanks for joining our LIVE Q&A! We’ll begin in 2 minutes.
5:02
This Q&A is intended for college students, faculty and staff.
5:02
It is text only – you’ll interact with us via the live chat client that you are logged into now. When you submit a question or comment there will be a delay from when it appears on the chat client.
5:03
Moderating this Q&A will be Sarah Caminker and Jaclyn Renner from Autism Speaks U.
5:03
Let’s do a roll call, so we know the schools that are being represented.Enter your school name and if you’re an undergrad, grad or staff.
5:03
Comment From Amanda

NYU

5:03
Comment From Theresa

SUNY Albany- undergrad

5:03
Comment From Rosalie

Seattle Pacific University, undergrad of psychology department

5:04
Comment From John

National Univ. San Diego

5:04
Comment From Elisse Bachman

Elisse Bachman, Graduate Student (’13): Bloomsburg Univ of PA (Bloomsburg, PA)

5:04
Comment From Guest

Liberty University – Undergrad

5:04
Comment From sharon moreno

VCU, Richmond, VA – parent of undergrad

5:04
Comment From Jessica

Appalachian State – undergraduate

5:04
Comment From Guest

University of Texas at Austin – undergrad

5:04
Comment From Guest

San Joaquin Delta College undergrade in early child development

5:05
Comment From Rob and LK @ Gettysburg

Co-founders and -presidents of Autism Speaks U Gettysburg College

5:05
Comment From Lori – staff

Bridgewater State University, MA

5:06
Comment From Aspen

Arizona State University Undergrad

5:06
Comment From Susan

Remington College of Nursing, faculty

5:06
Comment From Guest

Smith College, undergrad

5:06
Looks like we have a diverse group here! If anyone comes on later, please post your name and school.
5:07
Comment From Brookie

Meredith College Raleigh NC

5:07
Comment From Katrina Mesina

Chicago Autism Speaks Office

5:07
For those new to Autism Speaks U, it is a program that supports students who
-host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events
-start chapters
-become campus ambassadors.We have 50 official Autism Speaks U Chapters across the country and work with hundreds of students who host events!
5:07
Get more information at www.AutismSpeaks.org/U or email sarah.caminker@autismspeaks.org
5:07
This Q&A will include the following:
-Explanation of Light It Up Blue & World Autism Awareness Day.
-Overview of how to get your campus to participate.
-Event ideas and links to resources.
-Question and answer session.
5:08
Before we dive into our first topic, we’d like to ask….
5:08
Did you know that Monday, April 2 is Light It Up Blue and World Autism Awareness Day?
Yes: ( 73% )

No: ( 27% )

5:09
Thanks for the feedback.For those who answered no, Light It Up Blue is Autism Speaks 3rd annual awareness campaign, where iconic buildings, landmarks and schools across the world are asked to change their lights from white to blue on April 2nd in Honor of United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day.
5:09
April 2nd also kicks off Autism Awareness Month which is all throughout April.
5:09
So what does this mean?April 2nd is a BIG deal, and we need your help to turn everything blue!
5:09
Last year, 150 colleges and universities across the country participated in Light It Up Blue by illuminating a building or structure or by hosting events on campus.
5:10
Did your school light it up blue last year?
Yes: ( 11% )

No: ( 89% )

5:10
Here are few images of buildings that went blue in 2011
5:10

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UConn’s Wilbur Cross Building.
5:11

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UC Berkeley’s Campanile
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Colgate University’s campus chapel.
5:11

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Case Western Reserve University’s Peter B. Lewis building.
5:11

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The Great Buddah at Hyogo in Kobe, Japan. – We know it’s not a school, but this is one of our favorite pictures!
5:12
Other incredible monuments that lit it up blue last year include the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, Sydney Opera House, Christ the Redeemer Statue, Tokyo Tower and more!
5:12
A new question for everyone…..please vote!
5:12
Is your school planning to light up a building/monument blue this year?
Yes: ( 48% )

No: ( 52% )

5:13
If you answered no, here are 5 easy ways to get your school to participate in Light It Up Blue.
5:13
1. Decide what building you want to light up blue. Determine this BEFORE you ask your school to participate, so you’re prepared when meeting with faculty and staff.
5:13
2. Contact your school’s President and Student Activities Director to ask them to participate. Do this via email or by making an in-person appointment.
5:13
Download a sample letter template that you can modify and send to your school athttp://bit.ly/liubletter.
5:14
3. See if there’s an Autism Speaks U chapter (http://bit.ly/chapterlist) or one of our national philanthropic partners (Αlpha Xi Delta http://bit.ly/azdlistings & Theta Delta Chihttp://bit.ly/tdxcharges) at your school. If so, contact them and work together!
5:14
4. Ask different academic department heads (Psychology, Education, Communication, Speech & Hearing, etc.) to work with you and the school administration to light up your campus blue.
5:15
5. Explain to your school WHY it is important to Light It Up Blue.
5:15
For example, 1 in 110 individuals are on the spectrum and a new case is diagnosed every 15 minutes. All the more reason to educate your campus about this prevalent disability.
5:16
Your campus will also be aligning themselves with prestigious schools, such as Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern, UC Berkeley and Penn State who lit up their campuses blue last year.
5:16
Now….HOW do you actually light up the building blue? There are 2 ways.
5:16
1. The school purchases blue bulbs from a hardware and lighting supply stores and replaces the white bulbs with blue ones.
5:17
Contact your school’s facilities manager for specific details on what type of lights you will need.
5:17
2. Place gels, filters or blue cellophane over the existing lights. These can be purchased from a local lighting supply store.
5:18
A few tips about the gels/filters…
5:18
If the installed lights are very bright white light, then it is recommended to use Roscolux #80 Primary Blue.If the lights have a medium intensity or the surface isn’t highly reflective, use Roscolux #68 Sky Blue.
5:18
The school’s facilities manager will be able to discuss this in more detail, but it’s helpful to have this information on hand.
5:18
If unable to light up a building blue there are other ways to have your school participate.
5:19
If there is an electronic marquee on your campus ask them to display the Light It Up Blue logo and announce that it is World Autism Awareness Day.
5:19

5:19
Encourage students, faculty and staff to all wear blue on April 2, or on another designated day in April. Gather everyone together, take a picture and send it to us!
5:19

5:20
Get a banner hung cross campus or near student housing to let everyone know that it’s World Autism Awareness Day.
5:20

5:20
Does your school have a well-known statue, monument or mascot? If so, decorate it with Autism Speaks U banners, gear and blue balloons!
5:20

5:20
Deck out the campus in blue. See how one school got approval to paint their campus’ tunnel.
5:21

5:21
There are SO many different ways to light up your campus blue! Be creative, think outside the box and don’t forget to send us pictures!
5:22
Now for a QUESTION….please submit a response
5:22
What building(s) or monuments are you planning to light up blue?
5:22
Comment From Caitlyn

The student center

5:22
Comment From Guest

Library, student center, and quad

5:23
Comment From Guest

Dorms

5:23
Comment From Lori – staff

I would love for the University to light up the main administrative building ~ Boyden Hall.

5:23
Comment From Rosalie

Demaray Hall Clocktower

5:23
Comment From Jessica

Mascot statue and our university’s main sign

5:23
Comment From Kimberly

Hey something I haven’t seen … let’s try and get towns or cities lite up blue that day

5:23
Comment From Rob and LK @ Gettysburg

Our main historic Building, Penn hall

5:24
Comment From Guest

I would like to light up College Hall here at Smith College, MA. It is very visible.

5:24
Comment From Theresa

I requested my school to light of the University Hall which is the first building you would see if you walked onto campus or the Campus Center

5:24
Comment From Kasia

We have a building that is a historic building here that just got new led lights so the building is always lit up and they can make them change different colors.

5:24
Comment From Susan

Will encourage everyone to wear blue April 2nd

5:24
Comment From Guest

Main building

5:24
Comment From Jasmine

The preschool I work for, the quad at the college and my house!

5:24
Comment From Kasia

Possibly our Mountaineer statue as well

5:24
Comment From Theresa

University Hall or the Campus Center

5:25
Comment From Guest

We are planning on having a block party on April 2nd. We’ll be having blue bracelets that light up, so we can do a countdown for sunset and have students light theirs up then.

5:25
Comment From Mike

We’re lighting up all the dinning halls on campus blue

5:26
Comment From Brooklyn at ISU
I love that block party idea
5:26
In addition to lighting up a building blue, host an event on April 2, or throughout the month of April!
5:26
To start, download our Light It Up Blue cards at http://bit.ly/liubcards.
5:26

5:27
Print these out and distribute the cards outside the buildings that are lit blue. They are a great way to raise awareness!FYI….we’ll be listing all available materials in a few minutes.
5:27
Event ideas can include, but are not limited to:
5:27
Bake sales
Autism Speaks wristband sale
Blue cupcake eating contest
Walk/run
5:27
Blue hair extensions booth
Spare change campaign
Zumbathon
T-shirt sales
Blue flower sale
5:28
One of our favorites….a blue cake pop fundraiser!
5:28

5:28
They’re easy to make and a big hit. Download the cake pop recipe at http://bit.ly/bluecakepops.
5:29
Or try a puzzle piece campaign.
5:29

5:29
Set up a table on campus and sell puzzle piece cards to students, faculty and staff. Whoever purchases the card, signs his/her name and display the cards in your Student Center.
5:30
Attach fact cards to blue flowers and sell them on campus throughout April. It’s a great way to raise awareness and brighten someone’s day.
5:30

5:31
For more event suggestions, download our “A through Z Event Ideas” guide athttp://bit.ly/q4Ex0w.
5:33
Another QUESTION for everyone….what awareness and fundraising events are you planning for Light It Up Blue & World Autism Awareness Day?
5:34
Don’t be shy….what events are you planning on April 2nd?
5:34
Comment From Rob and LK @ Gettysburg

trying to get the entire campus to wear blue, trying to light up a couple buildings, facts will be written throughout the ground in crayon, and we will be passin out info cards as well as wrapping trees up in blue tape

5:35
Comment From Mike

We’re having an all blue relay race on campus. $20 a team to register. The team with the most creative uniform wins a gift card which was donated.

5:35
Comment From Guest

We are getting shops around the university to post facts, make donations, and decorate their stores blue throughout the month of April.

5:35
Comment From Caitlyn

I was thinking a run/walk race and if that wasn’t possible an Autism Awareness BINGO night where the prizes would be blue

5:35
Comment From Jasmine

I plan on baking blue treats, cupcakes, cookies, cakepops and getting crafty by making blue flower headbands. Also, I plan on wearing blue as much as possible through out April! My 4 yr old son has autism and he makes my whole world a better place!

5:35
Comment From Lori – staff

My hope/plan is to get the involvement started at my campus! I love the ideas people are posting though!!

5:36
Comment From Susan

Blue Sidewalk chalk might be cool

5:36
Comment From Anna

We’re setting up a blue hair extension booth from April 2-6 on campus.

5:36
Comment From Lakesha

A scavenger hunt using puzzle pieces as clue cards, having students and faculty wear blue and having a walk.

5:36
Comment From Theresa

Aside from having a building lit up blue, we are trying to get everyone to wear blue and I was having trouble coming up with an idea but I really love the idea of the cake pop fundraiser attached to fact cards. And Sunday April 1st is our walk.

5:37
Comment From Caitlyn

Also I was thinking of painting a bunch of puzzles blue and hiding the pieces around our student center and the library and the person with the most pieces got a prize

5:37
Comment From Vicky Cid

we will be wrapping trees in blue ribbon, posting fact puzzle pieces into the ground with stakes, chalking facts onto the ground, lighting up a building blue, teaming up with our student body to hold awareness events like a blueberry pie eating contest, trivia bowl, etc… and teaming up with a local bar to raise funds

5:37
Comment From Rosalie

Will try to light up the buidling, blue ribbons around trees, mass emails to student to wear blue, and a fundraiser

5:38
Comment From Kasia

We are celebrating the entire week. We’re going to get a banner and have people sign but I’m liking the puzzle piece campaign better. Selling blue or puzzle piece printed ribbon. Selling wristbands. Giving out prizes to people we see wearing blue in support. Try to do a walk and have a game night. Having a guest speaker. On the 2nd we are also having a party (if the weather is nice) out by the building that we are lighting up blue.

5:38
Comment From Jasmine

My house will be decorated with Light It Up Blue and blue decor inside and out!

5:39
Comment From Michelle

We’re having a powder-puff football game with a few different sororities on campus. All the funds raised go to Autism Speaks! We’re getting the Greek Council & Student Government Assoc. to encourage everyone to attend.

5:39
All awesome ideas! There is one GREAT way to promote your events and that is through texting.
5:39
How many emails do you open? 1 out of every 10.How many text do you open? ALL
5:40
Send a text to 10 people. Include the event info. and ask them to forward the text on to 10 of their friends.
5:40
Create a text messaging campaign to increase attendance and funds raised!
5:41
Comment From Will

That’s a great idea! I never thought of that.

5:41
We’re excited for all you have planned.
5:41
Please remember to send pictures to autismspeaksu@autismspeaks.org of your events and campus lit up blue!FYI, since photos tend to be large, only send one photo per email.
5:42
Once your event is confirmed, we’ll send out awareness materials and a banner. Email autismspeaksu@autismspeaks.org your name, mailing address, event name/time/date/location.
5:42
A few additional tips….
5:42
1. Distribute awareness materials outside the building being lit up, so students connect the color blue to autism and Autism Speaks U.
5:42
2. Remember to take pictures! Contact your school’s newspaper or photography club and ask them take a high resolution picture of the building being lit blue and of your events.
We promote all of the schools that we receive pictures from.
5:43
3. Don’t start from scratch…use our promotional materials to get the word out!
5:43
Click the links below to download the items and print them off.
5:44
Side note: We’ll be posting the transcript from this Q&A later on the Autism Speaks U Facebook (www.facebook.com/autismspeaksu), so you’ll be able to access the links again.
5:44
Customizable Light It Up Blue Posters
• 8.5 x 11 poster- http://bit.ly/liubposter1
• 11 x 17 poster- http://bit.ly/liubposter2
5:44
•How To: Light It Up Blue Flyer- http://bit.ly/liubflyer
• This offers ideas for how you can get your campus involved.
5:44
Light It Up Blue Fact Cards – http://bit.ly/liubcards
5:45
These cards were just made for Autism Speaks U & Light It Up Blue, so use them!
5:45
Autism Speaks U Quarter Cards – http://bit.ly/quartercards
5:45
Fact & School Cards – http://bit.ly/vefknD
5:45
Autism Speaks U Handout – http://bit.ly/xfp6fq
5:46
Remember to email autismspeaksu@autismspeaks.org when your school CONFIRMS what building will be lit up and/or you have a confirmed event planned for Light It Up Blue.
5:47
We promote all the schools that participate in Light It Up Blue and want to include your campus!
5:47
We have a few minutes left, and wanted to take one more poll, before we open it up to questions.
5:47
Do you prefer attending a monthly Facebook Q&A or would you rather have a monthly conference call?
Conference call: ( 11% )

Facebook Q&A: ( 89% )

5:49
Good to know that we all love Facebook!
5:49
Now, please ask any questions about what was discussed or about the Autism Speaks U program.
5:50
We’ll share these questions, so everyone can learn from each other. If you have tips/suggestions please provide those as well.
5:50
Comment From Kim

If I’m having trouble getting my school to Light It Up Blue, who should I contact?

5:50
Kim, please contact your school’s president and/or student activities director. Download a sample letter template that you can modify and send to your school at http://bit.ly/liubletter.
5:51
Comment From Mojdeh

How long does it take to start an Autism Speaks U chapter?

5:51
Mojdeh, it can take some students 1-2 months, while 6 months+ for others. It depends on your school’s process, and if you finish all the required Autism Speaks U paperwork.
5:51
Comment From Isabel

If we’re having an event can we use the Autism Speaks U logo on our flyer?

5:52
We have a specific Autism Speaks U logo that is used for people hosting events. Please email jaclyn.renner@autismspeaks.org, explain your event and we’ll provide the correct logo.
5:53
We do ask that you submit a proof to us of ALL items using the Autism Speaks U logo before it gets printed/distributed.
5:53
Comment From John

To Kim, I have found that getting the Local TV station involved can sometimes push things in the right direction.. Be Nice…

5:53
Comment From Lakesha

I am having trouble getting my school to light it up. The presidents secretary is not letting us get through, and other faculty are not showing up to meetings we have scheduled to talk about plans

5:54
We have had students email the school President directly and explain WHY it is important to light it up blue. Explain to them what this day/campaign means. You can also CC other school administration on the email, so they are appear about it as well.
5:54
Comment From Jasmine

If I host an Autism Awareness/Light It Up Blue party at my house, will you still be willing to send banners and additional materials?

5:55
Absolutely! Email us the details.
5:55
Comment From Kasia

As far as selling t-shirts are we allowed to sell the shirts from the website or does it have to be designed that we created to sell?

5:56
You can sell shirts from the website or from other places that you purchased them. Completely up to you!
5:56
Comment From Kim

John- That’s a great idea. I was thinking of contact our school and local news paper and TV station to see if they would publicize what we’re trying to do.

5:56
Comment From Mojdeh

How to you go about getting sponsors for events? My school has said that once my chapter is approved I am given $200 for the year.

5:58
Contact local businesses, restaurants, shops, etc. Stop by stores close to campus and explain to them what a sponsor for your event/chapter would entail.
5:58
Access our sponsorship guide at http://bit.ly/o2REod.
5:58
It’s a great resource!
5:59
We’re just about out of time. Thank all of you for participating in our Q&A!
5:59
It’s fantastic to see college students so involved in raising awareness and advocating for the autism community.
5:59
Remember to check out www.AutismSpeaks.org/U for more information!
5:59
If we didn’t get to your question or you have a few more, email us at autismspeaksu@autismspeaks.org.
6:00
Thanks, and have a great night!

LIVE Facebook Q&A for College Students on Light It Up Blue!

February 13, 2012 2 comments

The Autism Speaks U team will be hosting a LIVE Facebook Q&A for college students, on Light It Up Blue and Autism Awareness Month this Thursday, February 16 at 5pm EST/2pm PST. 

RSVP at http://on.fb.me/rsvpfeb or join the chat directly at http://on.fb.me/febchat.

Our team will discuss how to get started and ways to get your campus to Light It Up Blue. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to share ideas with other students from across the country.

We look forward to chatting with you!

To see how you can get involved with the program, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.

Player’s Perspective: Colgate University’s Autism Awareness Project

February 2, 2012 2 comments

The two posts below were written by Caroline and Taylor, members of Colgate University’s Women’s Hockey TeamThe team’s Autism Awareness Project will be on Friday, February 3 at 7pm.  For more information or to make a donation, visit www.colgate.edu/autism.  

As our Autism Awareness game has been fast approaching, we have grown more and more excited by the second. As a sophomore, I have witnessed the first year of our autism project, and have even higher expectations for this year. Every time I see a friend, classmate, or another athlete, I ask them if they will be attending the game. Every response is alongthe lines of, “Of course! Our whole team is coming.” It is such an amazing feeling to hear such words, because we know that the whole community is behind us with this project. Ever since my freshman year at Choate Rosemary Hall, I have been involved with autism. During the month of January and February, my Choate hockey team would skate with mentally handicapped kids every Sunday, including kids with the brain disorder, autism. I became incredibly close with a boy named David. He had a huge heart and he would always tell me stories about his teams, his family, and how we were going to win the championship hockey game. When I graduated Choate, I was sad to leave such an eye-opening project, but I was quickly uplifted when my coach, Scott Wiley, announced our autism project for 2011. Coach Wiley designed this project in honor of Kati Williams, a local teenager from Norwich, who has been an avid fan of Colgate Women’s hockey for several years and now works as the team manager. She and her family have had a huge impact on our team. Last year’s project allowed us to cross paths with Christian Mast, an 11 year old boy who has autism, but also the biggest heart I know. He and his family have grown a part of our team, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.   -Caroline Potolicchio, Sophomore, #2

Caroline & Taylor: Members of Colgate University's Women's Hockey Team

Caroline & Taylor: Members of Colgate University's Women's Hockey Team

Before even coming to Colgate, I had already heard wonderful reports about the success of the Autism Awareness game last year. With the game fast approaching it has been fun to be apart of all of the excitement and commotion I am excited to see all of our hard work pay off this coming Friday. I am so thankful to be a part of such a great team that truly cares for a bigger cause. Just this past weekend when we were on a road trip, a St. Lawrence parent approached me, because she wanted us to know her gratitude to what we were doing for autism. She explained that the biggest problem with this disorder is that a lot of people are not educated that it even exists or that they could potential be diagnosed with it. She stated how our game and the publicity that it receives could be responsible for changing someone’s life. I can contest to this first hand, because our biggest fan is eleven-year-old Autistic boy. Just the way that Christian lights up when he comes to a game to see us, makes all of our efforts and time worth while. I am very excited to see the jerseys that Christian designed for our game, and I am thankful that I have been able to be a part of spreading autism awareness.  -Taylor Craig, Freshman, #5

For more information on Colgate University’s Autism Awareness Project or to make a donation, visit www.colgate.edu/autism.  

Colgate University’s Autism Awareness Project

January 30, 2012 1 comment

This blog post was written by Erin Mast, the Chair for the Central New York Walk Now for Autism Speaks. She is an active member of the autism community and a mother of three boys. Erin and her family have cultivated a wonderful relationship with Colgate University’s Women’s Hockey team. For details about Colgate’s Autism Awarenss Project or to make a donation, visit www.colgate.edu/autism.

If you are reading this blog, then most likely you have some connection to autism. I have two wonderful boys, who happen to be on the spectrum. I also chair the Central New York Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Through my volunteer efforts, I was lucky enough to be involved with the first ever Autism Awareness Event at Colgate University, hosted by the women’s ice hockey team in 2011. On February 3 and the 4, the team is hosting their second event. They are planning amazing things and making such a huge difference to the members of their community. But, more importantly than that, they are changing the lives of people with autism. They are blessed with a wonderful manager, Kati, who is a huge part of the team. Kati has autism. But, it has gone further than that. My son Christian went along with me last year and it has honestly changed his life. He is now playing ice hockey with the Rochester Ice Cats, who are a member of the American Special Hockey Association. Christian was also asked to design the jerseys for the Colgate games throughout the weekend, which he did happily. The jerseys will be worn for two games and then auctioned off, the proceeds being donated to Autism Speaks and other local autism charities

If you would have asked me if an ice hockey program could have changed my life, I would have said, “Absolutely not.” How wrong I would have been. Please take a moment to check out all that the ladies at Colgate University are doing to make a difference in the autism community by going to http://colgate.edu/autism. Support the team and all their efforts! Better yet, join us at Starr Rink on Friday, February 3 at 7:00 pm. Their goal is to break last year’s record by having 1200 fans. Wear blue and get in for free!

Get College Students Involved with Autism Speaks U!

November 28, 2011 5 comments

Are you a college student? Do you want to raise awareness about autism while gaining volunteer hours and experience for your resume? If so, join our team at Autism Speaks U to recruit students on your campus to host events benefiting our cause and to start a collegiate chapter. Become a Campus Ambassador at any college! You do not have to be close to an Autism Speaks office. It requires a time commitment of 3-5 hours per week for 3 months during the school year.

Watch our video below and click here for more information.

Autism Speaks U is a program designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. If you are interested in raising awareness on your college campus, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.

What Autism Means to Me: Natalie Davis

October 3, 2011 13 comments

This guest post is by Natalie Davis, a senior at St. Olaf College in Minnesota majoring in chemistry. Natalie serves as Miss Minnesota 2011 and has adopted autism awareness as her pageant’s service platform.  

As I am sure is the case for most people who are touched by autism, I have always seen my disposition as the sibling of someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as both a blessing and a curse. When I was a child, I knew my brother Trevor was different. He spent hours silently lining up toy cars into perfect rows instead of playing with other kids. He didn’t speak until he was 3, and he couldn’t produce a full sentence until he was 7. Trevor seemed to be in his own little world, but he and I were connected.

Natalie and her brother, Trevor

Even though Trevor couldn’t speak, I always knew what he needed. I was constantly on high alert regarding his emotions and any environmental factors that might upset him. For as long as I can remember, I have been his helper and protector. When kids bullied him, I quickly tried to explain, “He’s special ed.,” hoping they would have mercy. When he threw tantrums because he didn’t want to do his schoolwork, I slyly suggested a game of “tutor” instead. I helped him cover his ears when the sound of a fire truck was too much for him to bear.

Things have always been harder for Trevor. I went to a prestigious private school; Trevor was in public school in special education. I was invited to countless birthday parties; Trevor wasn’t invited to any. I was the star. I was the pageant queen, singer, athlete, and brilliant student. I seemed to have it all, but I had a brother who struggled.

Growing up with a brother who has ASD has not been easy. But when things get tough, my parents remind me to count my blessings. Despite his challenges, Trevor graduated from high school in the top 50% of his class, and he is currently a part-time student at St. Cloud State University. He plays piano, he is an excellent public speaker, and he is an Eagle Scout. His dream is to become a best-selling children’s book author. Just because Trevor is different does not mean that he is less. Yes, he faces challenges that most individuals never have to face, but the fact that he has continually overcome many those challenges makes Trevor extraordinary.

Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.If you are interested in raising awareness on your college campus visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.

17 Wishes from an Adult with Autism

July 18, 2011 33 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. He started the club Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

If I had to make a list, this is what I would wish for the Autism Community…

1. I wish that acceptance was easier to come by.

2. I wish that loving one another was always on our mind.

3. I wish that an “early diagnosis” remains a high priority.

4. I wish that people would stop calling autism a disease.

5. I wish that communication becomes easier for everyone with autism. We are trying.

6. I wish that we find more treatments to enhance the lives of people with autism.

7. I wish that insurance for autism gets passed in all 50 states.

8. I wish that the government would understand the need for services for the autistic in schools.

9. I wish that autistic individuals can one day live their lives independently.

10. I wish that I was capable of helping more.

11. I wish that people would stop using the words “socially awkward” and “retard” in a negative way.

12. I wish we raise awareness for all with disabilities. Those of us living with a disability are doing our very best.

13. I wish for those who are or love someone who is on the spectrum that you know that we are moving forward every single day.

14. I wish that all of our voices can be heard.

15. I wish everyone will follow the words of one of my favorite performers of all time, Michael Jackson who sang in his song called, “Man in the Mirror”, If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.

16. I wish you all knew me when I was 4, when I was diagnosed with autism. For a long time I was lost. Scared of myself and what I was capable of. I never thought I would be where I am today… but I did it. I graduated from Seton Hall University this past May and will be going to Graduate School for Strategic Communications in the fall to boot. So for my final wish:

17. I wish for you all to always live life with hope. I wish that your days are filled with hope for a better tomorrow, and for today no matter how dark life gets sometimes that you realize you’re never alone. I wish this for you…

* I encourage everyone in the Autism Community to remember that we must come together as a true community to put our best foot forward. I know we all have a lot of wishes out there so let’s avoid distractions and focus on progress so we can all, “Make a Difference”. You can also find this article in the SFGate here.

This is one of my Autism Speaks U related blog posts. If you would like to contact me directly about questions/comments related to this post I can be reached at kerry.magro@autismspeaks.org or through my Fan Page here.

Tune in to “The Talk” Friday, April 8

April 8, 2011 1 comment

CBS’s popular talk show “The Talk” will feature the the second of four weekly segments about autism on Friday, April 8.  The April 8 segment of focuses on fathers of children with autism.  Sometimes called the “forgotten parents,” this show explores how fathers process an autism diagnosis differently, resulting in marital discord. Holly Robinson Peete’s husband, former NFL QB Rodney Peete, author of “NOT MY BOY, A Father, A Son and One Family’s Journey With Autism,” and actor Joe Mantegna join the show for a conversation with fathers whose children have been diagnosed with autism.

Read a release from CBS describing the whole series here.  And see how “The Talk” lit it up blue on April 1 here.

Check your local listings for the time near you!

Australia to Light It Up Blue

We are so excited to share with you all what is going on ‘Down Under’ for Light It Up Blue and World Autism Awareness Month. Nicole Rogerson, a Director at Autism Awareness, has said, “It’s all about awareness. It is amazing to add Australia to this great global campaign.” Autism Awareness is an Australian-based not-for-profit organization, which was founded in February 2007. Since then, it has grown into the Australia’s largest autism education and advocacy organization, dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the community. For more information, please visit here.

Banners Hung Around Sydney, Australia

Autism Awareness will be running two events for World Autism Awareness day. They will be hosting a reception to see the Sydney Opera House light up blue! People are encouraged to head down to Sydney’s Harbor and join in the festivities and celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. Check out these banners that have been hung all around Sydney!

For those who can’t attend but who would like to be part of it all, they can go to the Autism Awareness website and light their own virtual light bulb. Head over and light your own bulb!

Autism Awareness will be hosting Australia’s first ever National Autism Summit on April 1st, where 30 of Australia’s leading experts in autism research, medicine, education, and public policy will develop a united action plan for autism in Australia.

Visit Autism Awareness on Facebook and Twitter to get information and updates regularly!

Check out this commercial that has been airing on Australian television. It has generated a lot of interest and discussion throughout the country.

 

 

 

Reflection on Autism

December 6, 2010 16 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a rising senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Sports Management. He started an Autism Speaks U Chapter: Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

Over a year ago, I was approached by Autism Speaks to appear in a video called, “Join Us” which was a Thank You Video that was made for the 5th Year Anniversary of Autism Speaks. During the video several people got to speak about autism including myself. Since then Autism Speaks has opened the door to numerous opportunities for me to help spread awareness about autism. While looking back at the past year I took some time with this blog post to reflect on my own experiences with autism and how I can relay what I’ve learned into ways that could help others. The lists below discuss my questions, others peoples’ questions/misconceptions, interests of my own involvement with autism, and ways to help those, like myself, who are in college with autism succeed.

10 Questions I’ve always asked myself about my disability:

  1. Why Me?
  2. Does autism define me or do I define autism? (I know I define autism but it’s something I’ve always asked myself in repetition)
  3. Why do I have the ability to communicate better than others with autism?
  4. How did autism get started anyway; where did it come from?
  5. No one in my family has autism so why do I have it?
  6. If I have kids someday do they have a stronger chance of having autism?
  7. Was I misdiagnosed; how many individuals with autism live their lives wrongfully diagnosed?
  8. Will I find someone who is exactly like me on the autism spectrum?
  9. What can I be doing to make those more aware of autism through my own life experience?
  10. Do my loved ones and individuals around me treat me differently because I am autistic? Would it be different if I wasn’t?

10 Comments/Questions I’ve heard people say about autism (either directly or indirectly)

  1. People with autism cannot live a normal life.
  2. I couldn’t love someone with autism, they are just too different.
  3. People with autism only have the capability of being loved and being in love with those who are also autistic.
  4. Autism or not, people are people, all with distinct characteristics that make them unique.
  5. Isn’t autism a disease that could be spread through vaccines in flu shots?
  6. Why do more white children have autism than black children?
  7. Rich families have a better shot at beating autism than those who don’t have the money to pay for treatment.
  8. Is autism only a communication disorder?
  9. Family members more often than not suffer more than those who are autistic.
  10. None of us are perfect at communication so doesn’t that mean there is a little autism in all of us?

My Top 5 movies involving autism:

  1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  2. Adam
  3. Mozart and The Whale
  4. Temple Grandin
  5. Forrest Gump

Favorite book about autism: “A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism” Author: Laura Shumaker

When I was diagnosed with autism: 4 and a half

When I first understood I had autism: When I was about 11 and a half.

Favorite moment: Getting into College

Worst moment: Being told that I would die alone by a peer.

Favorite college moment: Getting accreditation for starting a student organization to spread awareness for disabilities called “Student Disability Awareness.”

10 tips for succeeding in college with autism

  1. Life is unfair at times but you should never let yourself turn into the victim.
    Don’t pity yourself or let others pity for you. Be independent and show what your strengths are while you working on your weaknesses.
  2. Spread awareness in everything you do.
    The fact is most college students will not have autism, or rather a disability at all. Be informative, use social media and word of mouth as much as possible to get the word out. This doesn’t mean primarily towards autism either. Spreading awareness of many different things you are aware of can lead to a more accepting and understanding environment.
  3. You’re paying for the education, get every accommodation you need!
    Regardless if your school is disability friendly or not you have the right to reasonable accommodations. Most colleges just get by with the minimum. Make a stand; learn what reasonable accommodations not only you should receive but what others should be getting too. You could lead to helping a future student with autism have an easier experience by being proactive. If you are not sure what accommodations you should be getting discuss it with an elementary/high school advisor who did your IEP for grammar/high school. Early Intervention is key not only when you are young, but in maximizing every aspect of your life. Research, research, research!
  4. Conquer your fears early on.
    One of my favorite poems of all time by poet Marianne Williamson starts out with this line, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” As someone with autism, we all have our focus on certain things that can be seen as strengths. At the same time we also have those things that we focus on that we can be afraid of. The fear of change is the biggest fear that relates to someone with autism in regards to going to college. There are too many what ifs and this is why many young adults tend to opt to live at home rather than go to the college dormitories, especially early on. The faster you can conquer these fears, the faster you can focus on your main objectives and goals out of your college education.
  5. Be proud of who you are!
    It is something that can be forgotten very easily. To get into college is a tremendous accomplishment. For someone with autism to get to college is even more momentous of an occasion. It gives tremendous hope to others so always be willing to share your stories, you never know whose listening.
  6. Always take notes.
    This is for both inside the class room and out. It is sometimes very difficult to read the perceptions of other people. From one of my last posts called The Blind Side, I mentioned I sometimes have the ability to not understand views from other people’s perspectives. If you become more calculated in your approach to college, and try to take a deeper understanding of others it can help in your overall social development. Have a little notebook that you take place to place to make sure you have the ability to write down these notes and come back to them later to reflect.
  7. Don’t let clutter bother you!
    Recently I’ve learned in one of my business classes about the concept of “cognitive dissonance,” meaning having too many thoughts in your mind at one time. Stress can be overbearing so attempt to find a place on campus where you feel most at peace with. This goes with noise also. In college there can be a lot of this whether it is in the dorms, class rooms, or out somewhere on campus. If you want to avoid noise also consider noise canceling headphones.
  8. Exercise!
    This is a more general concept but for me, I always had difficulty with hand eye coordination and my motor skills in general so I knew being physically fit was important to my overall development. Autism can affect motor skills so for some this tip will be more useful than to others. Find a daily regiment where you can contribute at least 30 minutes of physical activity to your schedule.
  9. Find out what type of learner you are!
    Personally, math and pictures have always been my first language and words have always come second to me. My thoughts in my mind run like videos. This tip helps with the above tip in regards to accommodations. If you know what you are best at, maybe you can find a way to negotiate with your professors on ways to make the class more suits yourself.
  10. Communicate as best you can!
    Some of the easiest problems to conquer in college are caused by a lack of communication. If you are not comfortable in doing so, make sure someone else around you knows how to help you with  this. Independence is not learned over night but it’s almost impossible to get through college with your family calling all your shots. All disability support offices/services will stress the concept of independence to you and therefore you need to make steady goals and steps on how to overcome any dependency issues you may have.

These tips are simply based on my own thoughts and opinions. Remember that there’s a program that supports college students and the autism community. Get involved with Autism Speaks U to see how you can spread autism awareness on campus and in your community!

I welcome others thoughts and ideas on these subjects in the comments below or through email. Finally, I want to thank everyone who has been reading my posts over the past seven months. Reading your comments and your emails have been very impactful in my own development as a writer. Each new comment/email makes me construct my writing in a way to better help everyone.

As I’ve done in the past feel free to email me if I can be of any assistance. I always try to respond to emails in a timely fashion and try to find more ways that I can reach out to the autism community, and if this is a way I could do so I would be glad to help. Thank you all so very much!

(This is one of my Autism Speaks U related blog posts. If you would like to contact me directly about questions/comments related to this post I can be reached at kerry.magro@autismspeaks.org.)

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