Blue lights to illuminate campus for autism month

On Wednesday, DeGarmo Hall will be lit with blue lights in order to show support for World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month.

Light It Up Blue is a worldwide event that endorses awareness toward autism and focuses on spreading the message so people can get involved. Blue ribbons will also be tied around the trees on the Quad.

“We’re just trying to bring that to ISU especially since we have such a huge education and special education program here,” Lizzy Murray, ISU Autism Speaks secretary, said.

Autism spectrum disorder and autism both are broad terms for a group of disorders in brain development. These disorders are determined by complications in social relations, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive actions, all to which have varying degrees.

Statistics indicate about 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the U.S., although research has been showing that the rates could be getting higher.

“It’s about accepting awareness of the issue — it’s becoming more and more prevalent, and the new records are showing something different and aren’t released yet,” Sarah Bonnar, fundraising chair for ISU Autism Speaks, said.

World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month takes place each April. The Light It Up Blue campaign works to promote awareness around the world for the epidemic that affects thousands of families internationally.

A number of places around campus have joined in on the cause — Greek houses including Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Gamma Pi, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta and Phi Sigma Sigma have all purchased blue bulbs for Wednesday. The College of Education has also bought blue bulbs.

“Autism Speaks is about raising the funds to help but also acceptance of the issue,” Bonnar said.

Some of the other areas around the world that participate in the Light It Up Blue cause include Canada’s Niagara Falls, Australia’s Sydney Opera House and Colorado’s Aspen Mountain. Other locations include The Empire State Building in New York, Chicago’s Willis Tower and the Capitol Building. The Rio de Janeiro also lights up on this day.

Autism Speaks’s final fundraiser for the 2013-14 school year will be their first annual 5K April 27. For $15, students are invited to show their support for the autistic community by running or walking in the event, especially in McLean County.

“Families who have a child with autism — it costs so much money for therapies and the support that they need so we’re trying to help them out, too,” Murray explained.

“The bottom line is that maybe college students may not be thinking of it now, but maybe in 10 years it could be their kid or their niece or their best friend’s daughter that is in the spectrum,” Danielle Dorion, president of ISU Autism Speaks, said.

“It’s really just raising awareness of how big an epidemic it is.”

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