Student organization holds an Autism Information Night event

Autumn Evans/ The Record
CEC President Morgan Brown addresse club members at the start of the meeting.

Autumn Evans/ The Record CEC President Morgan Brown addresse club members at the start of the meeting.

Autumn Evans, News Editor

The SUNY Buffalo State chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children held Autism Information Night from 6:15p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday in E. H. Butler Library 210 as part of the group’s regular twice-monthly meetings.

The presentation on autism was given by Kathy Doody, faculty adviser to the club and an exceptional education assistant professor with 16 years of experience in the field.

About 20 exceptional education students turned out for the event.

“When I first started doing trainings and presentations in the area of autism, I would typically address a group about this size and ask, ‘How many of you had interactions with an individual with autism?’” Doody said. Nearly every student raised his or her hand. “Fifteen, 16 years ago, I would have one person raise their hand, or two people.”

She attributed the change to an increase in awareness among the general population, better diagnoses and the fact that children with disabilities are no longer isolated from the outside world.

During the presentation, Doody discussed how teachers should work with students with autism to best communicate with them and to understand and manage their behaviors.

“We know that all children have great potential, and you are a lucky generation because you’re one of the first generations of teachers that’s really trained to tap into that potential,” Doody said, adding that in the past, teachers did not push children with disabilities to perform their best. “Now we know that the sky’s the limit.”

She also stressed the importance of teaching not only exceptional education, but general education teachers how to interact with children with disabilities, because it is highly likely those teachers will have a child with a disability as a student at some point.

The students in attendance said they appreciated the presentation.

“It’s just a great way for students to get more involved in their actual field,” said CEC President Morgan Brown, senior exceptional education major. “Plus, you’d be paying for a class like this, but Dr. Kathy is wonderful enough to give us her knowledge about autism, so we’re super excited to have her.”

Students who attended the event were also given the opportunity to volunteer at the East Aurora Explore & More Children’s Museum’s “Au-some Evenings” event Nov. 14. During Au-some evenings, the museum is closed to the general public so that children with autism and their families can meet in a supportive environment to play and learn. The museum has a gym with gross motor and sensory equipment, a therapy dog, music therapy and arts and crafts.

“I’m really excited,” Brown said. “I’ve actually participated in Au-Some Nights at the Explore and More Museum and it’s a great experience.”

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