Autism Speaks u holds event educating LIberty students and faculty on how to assist students on the autism spectrum

Autism Speaks U (ASU) at Liberty University is just one of many clubs that has recently taken steps to vocalize its cause on campus.

Before the spring semester began, ASU held an educational seminar for Liberty faculty to learn more about autism and how to better assist students on the autism spectrum.

Corrine Hilton, vice president of membership and marketing for ASU, runs all social media and operates in junction with other college campuses for ASU’s voice to be heard.

“One of our main phrases is ‘Autism speaks, Liberty listens,’” Hilton said. “We love to integrate both parties in leadership and as members that are on the spectrum and not. We work together for a common goal to get more accommodations and more compassion on campus.”

ASU Liberty advocated for awareness last semester by approaching the Office of Disability Accommodation Support and the Office of Equity & Inclusion to present solutions for students with autism who may face challenges in the classroom. Additionally, they offered a presentation to Liberty faculty at the Conference for Teaching Excellence before the spring 2020 semester.

Audrey Lambert, Autism Speaks U: Liberty president, spoke about the role and significance of this club.

“We are trying to establish a sense of community in the classroom,” Lambert said. “It is often hard for people on the spectrum to find community. We want to provide the things professors can’t provide, which is social experiences.”

Lambert explained that the best thing a person can do to cater to someone with autism is to be aware of the symptoms and signs and remember to show kindness and understanding.

“Awareness is not enough for me,” Lambert said. “I want to get rid of some of the stigmas and stereotypes that come with a vague idea of autism. People on the spectrum are just normal people.”

Hilton emphasizes ASU’s passion for fellowship and integrating both parties on and off the autism spectrum. 

“We want students with autism and without autism to have a safe space that they can go to for community,”
Hilton said.

“To have compassion for someone does not require proximity, it is more of a heart posture,” Hilton added. “We have to realize that people around us are different, and that is okay.”

This school year, ASU club members had the opportunity to sit in reserved seats when Kodi Lee, singer-songwriter and America’s Got Talent winner, visited campus for Convocation. 

Recently, the club joined the Liberty bookstore at the Animated Characters Night and plans to host a Valentine’s Day event. Hilton said ASU is not an obligation, and just asking a few questions or signing up for the email list can get a student more involved.

Nationally, Autism Speaks, which runs over 30 active college chapters, practices a mission to engage the campus and local community in awareness, advocacy and fundraising to help both individuals and families affected by autism. In addition, the chapter Autism Speaks U supports college students, alumni, and faculty in awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.

Students can join the club and participate through service for CSER credit. 

Liberty’s web site has a link to Autism Speaks U on the club page.

Edmonds is a news reporter. Follow her on Twitter.

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