By David Villegas
The Counseling Center and the Academic Success Center teamed up to host a talent show that was tailored for Roosevelt students who have autism.
“The counseling center did a fantastic job in creating and organizing the event, so the ASC had a very small role in planning,” Associate Director of the Academic Success Center, Danielle Smith said. “We did, however, encourage a lot of our students to participate in the event, and many of them did! I think we were more of the supporters of the students; we were there because they knew we had their backs, but the students were the real stars of the show.”
Ann Diamond, who is a Staff Psychologist and the Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling Center, explained why this event was created.
The objective of the talent show was to increase awareness on our campus related to Autism and provide a space for those that identify on the Autism spectrum and those that do not necessarily to come together and connect.
“April is Autism awareness month and we wanted to find a way to honor this identify for those in the RU community,” Staff Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator, Ann Diamond said.
The Counseling Center wants to make more autism visible on campus.
“It is important to acknowledge and be aware of many of the identities people hold, including anyone that identifies on the Autism spectrum. There can be a lot of stigma and misunderstanding at times that those within the Autism community face, so addressing these concerns in an intentional way is a manner in which we hope to directly challenge and decrease the stigma and increase understanding,” Diamond said.
Diamond said both the university and the counseling center have a history of celebrating difference and the the talent show showcased the power of indifference.
Danielle also spoke about on how she makes autism visible on campus.
“One of the things I try to work for each and every day here at RU is to have disability seen as diversity. I think it is so important that just like different religions or races, students who are neuro-diverse (meaning they are “different” in behavior or ways of thinking) should be accepted just as everyone else,” Smith said.
She added, “I think the talent show did an amazing job of bringing us together as a loving and supporting community that celebrated the true talent of our students and staff. Not all of the people who performed had Autism, but some of them did, and in reality it didn’t matter, it was a fantastic show that showcased true talent. It is important that people know the facts and myths about Autism so we can start creating a more inclusive community for everyone.”
Diamond said how the counseling center how they try to dispel myths about autism.
“The counseling center is constantly striving to dispel myths about many identities those within the RU community hold. Dispelling myths about those that identify on the Autism spectrum continues to be a top priority for the counseling center, in addition to a growth area for us moving forward,” Diamond said.
Jacob Koenigsberg, who is majoring in Criminal Justice, felt great about this event.
“It was good, it was entertaining, it was amusing and I had a real good time. I lot of people I knew of participated in this show,” Koenigsberg said.