GV lights clock tower blue for Autism Awareness Month

GVL / Archive

GVL / Archive

Alyssa Rettelle

On Thursday, April 2 buildings and landmarks around the world were lit blue in the evening. One of Grand Valley State University’s landmarks, the Cook Carillon Tower on the Allendale Campus, was also lit as part of the Autism Speaks “Light It Up Blue” campaign to kick off the start of Autism Awareness Month.

Kellie Bolster, a member of the Statewide Autism Resources and Training Project (START) and faculty member at the Autism Education Center said that the organization supports people dealing with autism.

“START supports individuals with autistic spectrum disorders and their families during Autism Awareness Month and throughout the year,” Bolster said.

GVSU’s Autism Education Center runs the START Project – which is funded by the Michigan Department of Education and Office of Special Education – to provide training and technical assistance to educators in Michigan that serve students with autism spectrum disorders.

GVSU was designated by the Michigan Department of Education as the lead university in the development of resources and training for school personnel and parents of children with autism in 2001.

Turning the Cook Carillon Tower blue is not the only thing that START takes part in during Autism Awareness Month. According to GVSU’s Autism Center’s website, many Michigan educators, parents, students and staff will acknowledge Autism Awareness Month through peer-to-peer support programs and awareness activities in their schools and communities.

START is also holding its 14th annual conference on April 27 at Crowne Plaza Lansing West, where Mark Durand, professor of psychology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, will give the keynote presentation. Durand’s talk is titled “An Optimistic Approach to Helping Students with Challenging Behaviors.”

Participants will have other presentations to choose from while at the conference. Mark Durand will give another talk called “Sleep Better! Improving Sleep for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder”; Maureen Ziegler and Kelly Dunlap from the START Project will speak on “Managing Self-Management”; Kindy Segovia from the Kent ISD will present about Technology Supports; Laurie Potie from Shepherd Public Schools will have a session on self-advocacy and students with autism spectrum disorders; Laurie VanderPloeg and Michael Bausano from the Kent ISD will give a talk called “Implementing the Empowerment Model for Secondary Transition”; and Linda LeBlanc from Trumpet Behavioral Health will give part one of her talk titled “Teaching Complex Skills to Facilitate Success After Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention.”

Other talks include Amy Matthews and Jamie Owen-DeSchryver from the START Project titled “Manding and More for Young Children: Kick Starting Communication”; Matt Romback, who’s an individual on the Spectrum will be giving a presentation called “If My Life Were A Movie”; and Linda LeBlanc will give part two of her talk titled “Teaching Complex Skills to Facilitate Success After Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention.”

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