Autism Awareness Week: Insight from Taitum Male, President-Elect of Association of Future Speech-Language Pathologists

The week of April 1st is Autism Awareness week at CMU. I had the chance to speak with Association of Future Speech-Language Pathologists (AFSLP) President-Elect Taitum Male about what Autism Awareness Week is about. Male is a junior at Central Michigan majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with an interest in going into speech-language pathology.

Why are you raising awareness for Autism and what does it have to do with Speech-Language Pathology?

We raise awareness for autism to help promote programs that support people with autism, but mostly just to promote acceptance and inclusion. People with autism often have delayed development of language or no use of spoken language at all, so speech-language pathologists can help evaluate what language they have and do therapy to develop more language or work to find alternative means of communication.

What events will be happening during Autism Awareness Week and who is putting them on?

AFSLP is having a table in the Health Professions Atrium from 9 am to 3 pm on Monday, April 1st and Wednesday, April 3rd to help raise awareness about autism. Come stop by to learn more!

The Students for Autism Volunteering and Education (SAVE) is putting on a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesday, April 3rd. By presenting the flyer, 20% of your purchases will go back to SAVE to support raising awareness for autism!

What do you think people should know about Autism?

In the United States, the prevalence of Autism is 1 in 59. Autism is a spectrum disorder, so it affects each person differently. There is no specific cause of autism; however, increased awareness and various interventions and services are available. Vaccines are not linked to autism (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Signs that are associated with autism are infrequent use of spoken language, lack of interest in playing with others/playing make-believe, and limited use of eye contact.

Autism Awareness is associated with a multi-colored puzzle piece, what does that symbolize?

The puzzle piece is supposed to represent a wide range of variety within the autism spectrum.

What other future events will AFSLP be putting on in the future?

As the semester winds down, we’re not planning any more events this year. In the Fall, we’ll also have a table event during Stuttering Awareness Week. Also in the Fall, we are planning on partnering with the Speech Language and Hearing Club to put on our second annual “Volley for a Voice” event. This is an event where you can bring or join a volleyball team to come compete and raise money for scholarships for kids to go to CMU’s Summer Specialty Speech Clinic. If you are interested in learning more about AFSLP or joining, contact them at [email protected].