Like the Empire State Building and Times Square, the Barone Campus Center was just one of the many areas illuminated blue as part of the “Light It Up Blue” project, which spreads awareness about autism on World Autism Day.

This world awareness day is especially important to those at Fairfield because it was started by two Fairfield residents who made it their mission to raise support of the disease after their grandson was born with autism in 2005.

Bob and Suzanne Wright co-founded Autism Speaks, a leading organization in autism science and advocacy for the disorder. According to their website, Autism Speaks is “dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”

Autism is a complex neurological development disorder that is said by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to affect one in 68 children and one in 42 boys. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, autism is “characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.”

Autism, the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, is still often pushed aside, which is why there are many efforts to continue to raise awareness.

“Anytime I’ve ever really had a discussion about autism, it’s often overlooked,” said Fairfield University Student Association Vice President Alex Cucchi ‘15. “A lot of people don’t really realize how common it is and it’s something where the awareness needs to continue to grow.”

Since 2005 when Autism Speaks was founded, there has been an increasingly large focus on the disorder. This organization has made great strides in raising awareness about the disorder and continuing global health efforts to improve the situation which they see as a “global health crisis.”

At Fairfield, both the students and staff made great efforts to raise awareness about autism in support of both the organization and the day. Across campus, students wore blue to commemorate the disorder.

Freshman Aileen O’Brien was one of many who wore blue in support of autism.

“I think it’s important to spread awareness of autism because many people have it,” O’Brien said.

Barone decked the dining hall in blue with posters about the disorder, as well as blue balloons. FUSA also demonstrated its support through a tweet which read, “Although we love our red, please remember to wear blue on this day in support of Autism Awareness! #StandTogetherFairfield.”

Alpha Sigma Nu representatives distributed wrist bands and information packets in the BCC to educate the student body about autism and Autism Speaks. The front of the campus center was bathed in blue lights as well, which shone beautifully on campus all night.

Some students at Fairfield have made huge efforts to raise awareness about the disorder, like Cucchi who has a 19-year-old brother who suffers from autism.

“My younger brother is autistic and it’s something I’ve been around my entire life. He’s had a major influence on me and how I look at life in general,” said Cucchi. “I’ve gotten the chance to volunteer and work with a lot of autistic kids and it’s crazy how similar, yet how different they all are and they’re just awesome, awesome kids.”

Cucchi has participated in autism awareness at Fairfield since freshman year, and next year, he hopes to spread even more awareness to the school.

“Next year, I’ve talked to another couple of my classmates who also have siblings who have autism and I’ve talked to my parents as well and I’d love to have some parents speak. I’d love to speak and just have some things going on during the day,” stated Cucchi. “I want to make it a day where people just really learn a lot and realize how important autism is.”

He hopes to move the information table from the BCC to the Mezzanine. From there, Cucchi would like to stimulate conversation about the disorder by answering questions and handing out bracelets and T-shirts.

Although World Autism Day only happens once a year, both the Autism Speaks foundation and students at Fairfield continue to support those affected by autism throughout the year. The efforts made on this day are just one of the many ways the world continues to raise awareness about autism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.