The Delta Sigma chapter of Alpha Xi Delta recently participated in Light It Up Blue, an Autism Speaks campaign that takes place throughout the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month. Blue is the official color for autism awareness
“[Autism] is an extremely common disease that 1 in 68 children are affected with,” said Joselyn Dlouhy, junior pre-optometry major, public relations vice president and coordinator of the event. “It is necessary that people are aware of this to increase our quality of interactions with people diagnosed with autism. It is also a disease which has a wide spectrum of severity that most people are unaware of. I think awareness is key to improve relations with the autistic.”
Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks is one of the most well-known organizations for promoting awareness of autism spectrum disorder, a neurological condition that can affect behavior, social skills and communication ability. Those on the autistic spectrum may engage in repetitious behaviors and speech patterns, be unusually sensitive to sensory stimuli, have difficulty recognizing social cues or verbally expressing themselves and a number of other diverse symptoms.
On their website, Autism Speaks claims that they have become “the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”
“I think organizations dealing with autism should have autistic people at the forefront of the organization and it should be to spread awareness about the condition itself and to stop fear-mongering around it,” said Evelina Jones, sophomore English education major, “to normalize it so people will accept their children instead of being afraid of raising a child on the autistic spectrum. I wish that it was promoted more in society, that there were more autistic characters who are labeled autistic and normalized in media representation.”
The national Alpha Xi Delta sorority first began its affiliation with Autism Speaks in 2009, taking on the organization as its official philanthropic partner.
“Alpha Xi Delta is a great organization to support,” said Becca Marchetti, freshman social work major, “because on top of the great sisterhood and the bonds we all create with each other, it also gives you awesome leadership skills and you get to be comfortable with another population, like autism. We meet a bunch of families with kids that have autism. All the parents are so resilient to kids being bullied, to their kids growing as a person and learning new things.”
This is the 2nd year that FSU’s chapter of Alpha Xi Delta hosted its own Light It Up Blue event. This year’s event took place on April 12th, featuring the musical talents of Chas Burtchett, an Autism Speaks advocate who sings and plays guitar, free blue foam glowsticks and Pie a Xi, a fundraiser in which students could pay $2 to throw pies at members of the sorority.
“I’m super glad that everyone’s getting involved with the Pie a Xi, because obviously it’s kind of messy and it’s not fun to get whipped cream in your face,” said Marchetti said, “But all the proceeds go to a good cause. I’m glad a lot of people showed up.”
According to Dlouhy, Alpha Xi Delta raised over $900 for Autism Speaks between the Pie a Xi fundraiser and Football FrenXi, a flag football tournament that took place earlier in the day.
“[My] favorite aspect was getting the community together for a great cause and showing we care by lighting it up blue,” Dlouhy said. “I loved the environment being around friends and peers listening to live music at sunset. It was truly an uplifting event for a great cause.”
To learn more about Alpha Xi Delta at Ferris, visit ferris.alphaxidelta.org.