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Celebrating differences at Algonquin

For students like Carter Grusys, understanding the complexity that comes with being autistic is vital.

“Some of the experiences I’ve had in the classroom socially has probably been the biggest trouble I’ve had this year. We’re just trying to promote that not every kid is exactly the same on the spectrum,” Grusys said.

World Autism Awareness Day was held April 2. Here at Algonquin,the college raised awareness in a big way, and with many volunteers, a slideshow showcasing art and free candy, students were stopping at the booth set up in student commons to learn and talk about autism.

Autism is often times stigmatized and comes with a lot of preconceived notions, most of them false. It is a developmental disorder that affects the person’s communication and social interactions.

The spectrum is diverse. Elizabeth Neilson, a volunteer, explained this means that not every person with autism is going to experience autism be the same way which is important to keep in mind.

There is estimated to be around 200 students with autism at Algonquin according to learning strategist, Stephanie Mcgee.

Autism is such a consideration that there has been a transition support centre here at Algonquin for four years.

Tara Connolly, the coordinator of the transition support centre was there to lend a hand and share her knowledge on the resources available at Algonquin.

“One thing I noticed with my clients is that they were coming to post-secondary but they weren’t necessarily staying,” she explained. “It wasn’t because they weren’t rocking it, it was the navigating the social part of post-secondary.”

Connolly aims to make a positive impact with this transition support centre. She encourages students to get involved in future awareness-building activities.

“It’s more than just awareness, it’s a celebration,” Connolly said.

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