BY GRAHAM O’DWYER
On Sept. 12, the Are You Autism Aware? Club gathered on the 63’s patio for a “Puzzle-a-thon” to raise awareness and promote acceptance for those affected by autism.
According to autismspeaks.org, “autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as unique strengths and differences.”
It is estimated that one in 68 children in the United States is affected by the disorder.
During the event, club members along with other Sacred Heart students created large puzzle pieces with unique designs to demonstrate the diverse community that supports the club’s mission. The puzzle pieces are meant to signify the complexity of the disorder and how every person affected by autism is different.
By the end of the event, the 70-piece puzzle was completed.
David Bordonaro, a junior and member of the club, has learned a lot about autism by being involved.
“This club has shown me how autism is a much larger issue than people realize. It impacts families on so many levels,” he said. “Our events help people learn about the diverse symptoms and the effects autism has on people. This makes them more aware and sensitive to the issue as a whole.”
Senior and club president Julianna Fetherman is deeply devoted to raising awareness for autism, as the cause is very personal to her.
“My brother is autistic. I live it. I know the good, the bad and the ugly,” she said. “I just hope people can find it in their hearts to accept others who may be different than them because they didn’t choose to be that way.”
Fetherman says that the Puzzle-a-thon is the first of other great events that the club plans to hold throughout the year.
“Our biggest event of the semester will be a walk hosted at the football field in early November,” she said. “Next semester we will host a colloquium to further educate people on the cause, as well as a charity kickball tournament and a golf outing.”
The club members hope that their message of acceptance and anti-bullying will have an impact on the Sacred Heart community.
“Our club affects the Sacred Heart community by bringing people together from all walks of life to appreciate something beautiful rather than discriminating the people who suffer from autism,” said Bordonaro.“The new ideas we bring to campus bring attention to the fact that we are all human and walk on the same green earth. Let’s live together without social division.”