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What is Autism?

See why college students’ involvement with Autism Speaks U is so critical in educating their campus and community. Autism Speaks U works with college students across the country to spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism.

What is autism to you? Send your response to editors@autismspeaks.org

College students, faculty and alumni can get involved with Autism Speaks U by visiting http://www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.

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Autism Speaks U is a program designed to engage college students across the country in autism awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. Its new website offers a wide range of tools to empower students to establish Autism Speaks U chapters, organize events, and encourage their peers to get involved. College students, faculty and alumni can get involved with Autism Speaks U by visiting www.autismspeaks.org/u.


  1. Kimberly Cantarutti
    December 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Hello! My name is Kimberly and I am the mother of an autistic son, Austin, now 6 years old. He was 3.5 years old when her was diagnosed with PDD, Autism.

    Austin was a typical baby, laughing, crying, making great eye contact, holding his own bottle, interacting with enthusiasm, showing each new accomplishment with a great and powerful grin, and a smile that could turn a stone cold heart into ……mush. Then suddenly, so suddenly, we did not even see the signs, then again, we did not know the signs of regressive autism. We just thought he was extremely intelligent and unnaturally well behaved. He liked to examine things closely like wheels on a stroller, lights, anything that spun around, perfect distance between each toy, making patterns, spelling words, towering blocks into the clouds without missing a beat, almost perfect balance, walking perfectly at eight months and going up and down the stairs, fearlessly adventurous…the list goes on for a while.
    Very quiet, no big smile, but might catch a slight grin when being twirled around and around at high velocity. His first word was apple, but now he would not even babble a coo. But he did say meow thanks to our cat, Bones(mandu). No more pointing, no ques for hunger or thirst, wanted to play alone unless he needed me to spin him around. He loved that sensation. He also loved being upside down!
    He was close to 4.5 years old when he finally reached out to me other than to be picked up. I was reading him a bedtime story while he was playing with his inseparable Thomas the trains. I stumbled over a word repeatedly, I just couldn’t seems to get it out already! Austin suddenly looked up from his trains, though not into my eyes, then he so gracefully reached out and softly put his hand so gently on my mouth. I stayed as still as I could, looking at my baby who was looking at my mouth without any expression what so ever, but seeing a compassion so great in him I wanted to cry. But I didn’t cry. After the 3 completely wonderful seconds I will hold in memory for the rest of my life, he gracefully went back to playing with his trains as I whispered the words “I love you.”
    The first eye contact? During bed time story, of course. I animated a story about a hungry fox and a sly piglet so exuberantly that I just knew I would get something from my dear dear son. AND I DID! And it was BIG! He looked right into my eyes with a slight grin as I was in character, a loud and irritated fox being hustled by his dinner, the piglet, of course. I didn’t stop reading or over animating. And for many many nights that came and went, Austin verbally requested his favorite book, ‘My Lucky Day’ by Keiko Kasza. He even memorized the whole book and would re-sight them on que and would get up from his train set to turn the page when it was time. And he knew when… So I had better not turn that page! LOL

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