SkillsUSA brings autism awareness efforts to Edison, where students are uniting over bringing acceptance and appreciation to the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) community. High school can be a tough place to bring these efforts and views, due to the many misconceptions and jokes surrounding the disorder. The group, which focuses on ensuring America has a skilled workforce, tries to overcome these obstacles. It is refreshing to see a group of students so adamant on breaking that stigma and helping people understand the issue.
“Many people don’t know the importance of autism… this should be brought to light so a cure can be found… [and] my peers would be impacted and want a change as well,” said senior SkillsUSA member Anjelica Beharry.
For the 2018 National Awareness Month, SkillsUSA has done a number of things to support the nationwide attempt to draw attention to the thousands of people with an autism diagnosis. The walls surrounding the doorways to their meeting room are decorated in posters and big letters that spell out “Autism Awareness” in puzzle pieces, a symbol for the complexity and mystery of the disorder. They have also organized a day where everyone in the school is encouraged to wear blue, the official color for National Awareness Month.
“It is important to bring awareness when it comes to autism. [It] Brings curiosity as we learn more and more about the effects on a person and how it may change a person’s life,” said Anuj Shah, a senior member of SkillsUSA.
They have also designed pins to sell to students priced at $2. The raised funds will go to Hamilton Autism Advocates for Neurodiversity (HAAND), a group of students at Hamilton College helping those on the spectrum year-round. Furthermore, they have gone on trips to socialize and meet with children diagnosed with autism.
“A lot of people don’t know the struggles of people with autism,” said Jaya Raj, highlighting how these trips allow them to understand more about the disorder.
Understanding is the first step to bringing about change.