CSUF hosts Social for Adults with Autism and their Caregivers
The Titan Student Union Underground Pub was filled with laughter, excitement and opportunity as over 300 people attended the 6th Annual Social for Adults with Autism and their Caregivers event Sunday.
Erica Howell, Cal State Fullerton professor and co-director of the Center for Autism, said these events show that students at CSUF care about the autism community.
“It gives our students a chance to engage in high impact practices at CSUF and with community groups that are typically underserved,” Howell said. “Our adults with autism often times aren’t in the community. It’s really exciting that we can offer them a day of free fun where they’re engaging with peers who aren’t on the autism spectrum and who are college students.”
The CSUF Center for Autism’s website characterizes autism spectrum disorder as difficulty in social communication and the presence of repetitive or restricted behaviors.
According to a 2014 report by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 1 in 59 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder.
The Spooktacular Social event included activities such as billiards, arts and crafts, and an opportunity drive where those who attended the event had the chance to win different prizes.
There was also an area designated for dancing with members of The Movement, a student dance group who was also participating in the event.
Lori Escobosa, caregiver and mother of a son with autism, said it is an opportunity for the adults with autism to learn how to socialize with their peers.
“It’s a good way for our son to learn how to be social with typical people and learn how to meet other kids who have special needs. It’s very important,” Escobosa said.
The event is an ongoing collaboration put on by the Grandparent Autism Network, the Family Autism Network program, Cal State Fullerton Center for Autism, the University of California Irvine and Chapman University.
Bonnie Gillman said she founded the Grandparent Autism Network that co-sponsors the annual event and has seen the event grow over the years.
“(Socials) started very small at Mariners Church until we outgrew the church, and now each campus hosts one of the socials and it has grown. Today is a record crowd,” Gillman said.
Howell said the collaboration decided to take the event to college campuses and utilize student volunteers for the event.
“It was really exciting because it was the first time Chapman University, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton had all collaborated together in the name of autism,” Howell said.
Brooke Schooler, child and adolescent development major at CSUF and member of the Center for Autism, said the event is a rewarding experience.
“I’m wrapped up in my studies and my future career and doing this allows me to appreciate who I am and also give back to them as well,” Schooler said.
Marcus Escobosa, parent, caregiver and CSUF alumnus, said events like Adults with Autism give students who work with children with special needs hands-on experience and a chance to have fun.
“It’s just heartwarming for parents to know that some place like Cal State Fullerton cares,” Marcus Escobosa said.
Gillman said by having grandparents, parents and young people with autism at the event, it “raises their awareness about how autism affects three generations in the family.”
“We have high spirited, wonderful young people and if you look around, you would not guess that this was a social occasion for people with any kind of disability,” Gillman said.
Alex Quazza, volunteer for the event and student at Cal Poly Pomona, said it’s important for everybody to recognize that people with special needs are not any less of a person.
“There’s still a stigma attached to people with special needs and I think that barrier needs to be broken so that we can treat them just as anybody else because they are just another person,” Quazza said. “There’s no difference between them and us.”
CSUF center harnesses student, faculty involvement to help O.C. autism community
A team of experienced faculty and enthusiastic students lies at the heart of Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Autism, tapping into a network of community services and advocates to provide a resource for children and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Orange County and the Inland Empire.
One aspect that makes our center unique is that our three co-directors come from backgrounds in education, clinical psychology and developmental psychology. These three perspectives complement each other well, and we are each very passionate about our areas of interest and about applying our expertise to help individuals with ASD and their families, said Jason Baker, assistant professor of child and adolescent studies and one of the co-directors of the center. READ MORE