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Emory University’s 4th annual Autism Celebration Month kicks off in April
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Jennifer Johnson McEwen
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Emory celebrates ACM

As the world marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month on April 1, Emory University is kicking off its 4th annual Autism Celebration Month with a series of events under the theme "Pathways and Passions," celebrating the interests, expertise and meaningful journeys of autistic students and community members.

"Autism affects individuals in unique ways, and it's crucial that we recognize and celebrate the diverse pathways and passions within the autistic community. By raising awareness and fostering understanding, we create a more inclusive society where individuals with autism can thrive,” says Mikle South, PhD, director of the Emory Autism Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorder affects an estimated 1 in 36 children in the United States, making it one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country. Despite its prevalence, misconceptions and stigmas surrounding autism persist, underscoring the need for continued education and advocacy.   

The Emory activities kick off with student-led events at Oxford College of Emory University on Thursday, April 4, and the Atlanta campus on Friday, April 5, offering opportunities for community members to connect and learn from one another. 

Highlight events include an autistic student panel on Thursday, April 11, moderated by Rachel Harmon, PhD, visiting assistant professor of political science at Oxford and co-chair of Emory’s Autism Celebration Month planning committee. Emory invites participants to attend the virtual panel event to gain insights into the autistic student experience and participate in enriching discussions. 

A virtual research symposium on Thursday, April 18, will feature three early-career researchers sharing their work and engaging in collective discussions and Q&A sessions. The event aims to highlight the contributions and expertise of autistic and neurodivergent researchers.

A new addition to this year's lineup is an autistic student graduation celebration on Thursday, April 25, held at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum. While the ceremony is invitation-only due to venue limitations, it marks a significant milestone for graduating autistic students at Emory, promising an intimate and memorable experience.

The Emory University Autism Celebration Month Planning Committee extends its gratitude to sponsors, including the Emory Office for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Emory Department of Accessibility Services, Emory Autism Center and the Emory School of Medicine Office of Equity and Inclusion.

"Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, we are able to purposely shine a spotlight on the successes, strengths and unity within a community of students, staff, faculty, family members and allies who see the gifts of autistic identity while acknowledging very real challenges,” says Matthew Segall, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-chair of Emory’s Autism Celebration Month planning committee.

“Spearheaded by an outstanding neurodiverse planning committee, comprised of students, faculty and staff from both the Oxford and Atlanta campuses, our Autism Celebration Month at Emory is sure to be an empowering and inclusive celebration,” says Segall.

For event details and virtual event links, please visit the Emory Autism Advocacy Organization website. Additional updates may be provided throughout the month. 

If you would like to join Emory’s sponsors in supporting these or future events, please check out the Autism Celebration Month’s Emory Momentum campaign.

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