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New Mexico State University

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Autism Awareness Month to be celebrated at NMSU

Autism Awareness Month will be celebrated in April by New Mexico State University faculty and students in the Communications Disorders Program to educate the campus and community about the critical needs in the area of autism.



Christine Newtson, project supervisor for one of New Mexico State University's autism initiatives, presents interim Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Moulton with his autism awareness pin to be worn in the month of April. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

thleen Cronin, College of Education assistant professor in special education who specializes in autism, has already developed initiatives that provide assistance for children and their parents and teachers who are affected by autism. Students studying in the Department of Special Education/Communications Disorders are working with Cronin to host a variety of events in celebration of Autism Awareness Month.
Autism is a neurological brain disorder that manifests as a triad of impairments, which include deficits in social skills, communication skills, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors including the lack of pretend play. It is nationally reported that the number of children with autism has increased to one in every 150 children and in southern New Mexico school districts 300 cases of autism have already been identified.
Several disorders fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder including, Autistic Disorder, Rett Syndrome, Asperger's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. The disorders can co-exist with communication disabilities and range from mild to severe and include those who are non-verbal and verbal with no comprehension of what they are saying.
To kick off Autism Awareness Month, the students will have a table set up along the International Mall, today, April 6, to provide information about their initiatives.
An ice cream social, hosted by Las Cruces Toyota, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. April 23 at the Edgar R. Garrett Speech and Hearing Center on the bottom floor of the Speech Building.
The event will include a discussion on the services needed to help families and teachers of autistic children and a performance by Conjunto Norteno Acordones de Oro de la Academia Dolores Huerta. The group is asking attendees for a $2 donation to go toward their autism initiatives.
NMSU is building its curriculum in the area of autism by offering classes with an emphasis on autism as well as working to gain approval to offer a minor in autism for students studying special education and communication disorders.
Autism Awareness Month has been celebrated since the 1970s. The U.S. recognizes the month of April as an opportunity for the public to be educated about autism and the issues within the autism community.
For more information, call (575) 646-2402.