Elliott Tower lights up for autism

On Thursday, April 2, Oakland University joined the global community to raise awareness about autism by lighting the Elliott Tower blue.

Oakland University’s Center for Autism combines academic course work along with knowledge, research and hands-on work within the community. They work to prepare the future leaders in the autism community.

Amplifying Autism Awareness is a student group on campus. Ashley Semma, president and founder of Amplifying Autism Awareness, looks to help families living with autism and to raise awareness about it.

She started the group in honor of her younger brother.

“My brother was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old,” she said. “He is now 13 years old.”

Guests of the event received a blue balloon along with stickers and buttons in honor of autism.

After listening to the speakers and participating in photo opportunities, the sky turned into a sea of blue balloons as everyone released them.

Once the balloons were released, the Elliot Tower was covered in blue.

Dr. Janet Graetz and Dr. Chaturi Edrisinha were two of several speakers at the lighting. They are both associate professors from the Human Development and Child Studies department.

DiAnna Solomon, Senior Coordinator for Michigan at Autism Speaks, provided insight and information about autism and Autism Speaks. She also shared information about the upcoming walk for autism in Fall 2015.

Autism Speaks continues to fund research on methods for early diagnosis because early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.

Beginning in 2007, The United Nations adopted April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). Across the world, autism organizations participate in fundraising and awareness events.

The Light It Up Blue campaign was created by Autism Speaks, which is a global non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and raising money for autism research. Buildings and landmarks were lit in blue nationwide. 

Oakland University isn’t the only university in Michigan raising awareness for autism. Eastern Michigan University also took part in lighting the campus blue.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 68 American children are diagnosed with Autism. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.

If you are interested in learning more about autism or looking to raise awareness, visit Autism Speaks or visit OUCARES on campus.