RSO allows Autism to have a voice at ISU

Autism Speaks U RSO is making a difference here at ISU.

Recently, a new RSO started working toward a great cause. Autism Speaks U is a college-based program that is sponsored by Autism Speaks, which is a major organization working to raise awareness for Autism.

The organization started here last semester and became an official RSO in January 2014. Since starting here on campus, they have held a variety of events to raise money and awareness about Autism.


In the past, they have sold apparel, had restaurant fundraisers and worked to raise $88 in 88 days. They were successful and raised over $900 from this event in the span of a week.

Danielle Dorion, president and founder of the RSO, really likes what she has started. “I love knowing that we are making an impact for the autism community,” Dorion said.

“Every 11 minutes, a child is placed on the spectrum, and I know the money that we raise is helping these children and their families.”

As the chapter grows, the members hope to continue to expand people’s knowledge about Autism by continuing to do events on campus. In April, Autism Awareness Month, they hope to light up one of the buildings here at ISU the color blue as a way to get the attention of students.

“I don’t think people recognize how large of an epidemic this disability is, and I hope that we can make people see how autism is affecting thousands of children nationwide,” Dorion said.

Like Dorion, all of the members of the chapter are hoping to expand not only the knowledge of others but their own knowledge of Autism as well. Junior Nicole Pacente, marketing chairwoman, hopes that her time in the chapter will help her with her future career.

“I am a speech and language pathology major who wants to someday work with individuals who have autism. Therefore, learning more about autism as well as working in the autism community at Illinois State University has helped me narrow down my career goals,” Pacente said.

Pacente is excited for the events that the chapter has coming up. They will be selling shirts soon that say “Light It Up Blue” that will be available to the ISU community, and will be having a 5K run on the Quad toward the end of March.

The chapter is open to anyone who is interested in joining. They hold meetings the first Tuesday of every month in DeGarmo 209, in addition to their monthly fundraisers. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend.

“In one way or another, everyone is touched by autism, whether they have a family member or friend with autism or are going into a field where they will be in contact with an individual who has autism,” Pacente said.

For more information about the RSO, check out their Facebook page and keep up with upcoming fundraisers.

“By being a part of this organization, I hope we can donate thousands of dollars to Autism Speaks, so researchers will have the tools they need to learn more about autism, as well as continue research on different treatments for those who have autism and for the needs of these individuals’ families,” Pacente said.

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