Media & Press

Rowan University Spreads Autism Awareness
Gina Bittner

Bunce Hall on Rowan's campus lights up as part of Light it Up Blue for autism awareness.

Rowan University is doing its part this month to spread autism awareness throughout its campus and surrounding community.

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recently released data that said 1 in 49 New Jersey children have autism spectrum disorder. At Rowan, retired language, literacy, and special education assistant professor Dr. Carolynn Hamlet previously estimated that 18 students in each graduating class will become the parents of a child with autism.

Hamlet, Rowan’s Director of Academic Success Center & Disabilities Resources John Woodruff and graduate student Calvin Cheung have organized a month of activities in honor of autism awareness.

“Rowan is the first to launch an educational program for students to learn the first signs and the next step,” Hamlet said.

The first of three events started Sunday on campus. At night, blue lights accent four campus buildings as part of the Light it Up Blue initiative.

“It’s to actually help educate everyone about the large number of individuals born each year [with autism],” Woodruff said of the international program.

On Monday — the official World Autism Awareness Day — the three hosted a panel presentation featuring two professors who discussed how educators can work with students who have autism spectrum disorders. The lecture also included four university students who have Asperger’s syndrome.

“I think that the students at Rowan who have Asperger’s, they really bring a diverse and unique perspective to Rowan,” Woodruff said.

Cheung said having the students speak during the panel offers a “powerful” message because it shows how a person with Asperger’s syndrome can succeed. Following the presentation, students were welcomed to view Temple Grandin, a movie following the life of the famous author who has Asperger’s.

The group’s efforts will conclude with a one mile walk and resource fair on April 22. The walk will continue to educate with special markers that feature important points about autism. Afterwards at the fair, attendees who know the most facts can win a prize.

“We hope to do this each year to continue raising awareness,” said Woodruff.

For more information on the one mile walk and resource fair, visit the group's Facebook page.

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Date: 4/3/2012