World Autism Awareness Day coming to campus

Ariel Themm, Staff Reporter

Oakland University is bringing back a World Autism Day celebration on April 2nd. The event is being organized by Oakland University Center for Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES), along with multiple people from various programs in OU’s Center for Autism, such as the ABA Clinic and Disability Support Services.

OUCARES is a program that offers support and education for teachers and parents who handle kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

ASD is a collection of neurological disorders that shows symptoms from birth and affects people throughout their entire lives.  People with ASD are on a spectrum, meaning they can range from smaller difficulties in these areas to passive or aggressive extremes.

OUCARES supports around 2,000 individuals with ASD every year. While the ABA Clinic handles primarily two to eight-year-olds, OUCARES deals with three-year-olds to adults. OUCARES offers different programs for adults, including sports teams and employment skills training.

“The mission of the center [OUCARES] is to improve the quality of life for those with autism and supporting many families and faculty that help with someone with autism,” said OUCARES director Kristin Rohrbeck. “We see a lot of OU students become involved with our center and we are working on building the number of support in the community and campus through a big initiative program called Genius to Genius program. This focuses on pairing someone with autism with someone who doesn’t to provide support. We also provide expert talks and parent training to keep the mission moving forward.”

OUCARES holds an event every year that lights up OU’s clock tower blue in honor of those with autism. 

“Our goal is to help people understand what supports are available for OU students with autism, as well as increase understanding for OU Faculty & Staff, who may be interacting with an individual with autism,” said Stephanie Drews-Laubach, the program coordinator for OUCARES.

“It will also bring awareness to the programming & supports that are available for the broader community. OUCARES has a variety or programs, supports, information and training available to individuals with ASD, parents and caregivers, educators, clinicians, etc. It is important to increase awareness and understanding of what  Autism is in general. We would also like to increase awareness of what OU is doing on campus, as well as in the broader community.”

OUCARES has high hopes for attendance for their big event, which will not require attendees to register beforehand. Representatives will be setting up a table in the OC from March 26 through March 30 to continue to promote the event and raise awareness for autism.

World Autism Awareness Day will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Oakland Center banquet rooms.