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Alpha Xi Delta lights up campus for autism

Mackenzie Mahler
The women of Alpha Xi Delta gather in front of Wallace Hall Monday for the lighting of the cupola.

Monmouth College students are very active in projects to both educate and benefit the community, and Alpha Xi Delta, a women’s fraternity on campus, is no exception.  On Monday, these ladies took the initiative to raise awareness about autism on campus.

Following the lead of the organization Autism Speaks, which each April illuminates well-known world landmarks with blue light in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day, they lit the Wallace Hall cupola and the front of their Broadway house blue. They also distributed blue lights to the other campus Greek organizations in an effort to spread the message.

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of complex developmental disorders. Autism is characterized by the unique behavioral and social difficulties that an individual experiences. Individuals with autism tend to experience difficulties communicating with others, and they can also engage in repetitive behaviors. 

There’s no medical cure for autism.  Because of the large range of symptoms that individuals with autism experience, treatment usually includes an individualized plan to help develop communication skills and deal with other symptoms that individuals experience. 

Why is it so important that the world be aware of autism? The importance lies in the numbers. One in 88 children is diagnosed with autism, and boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the U.S., and it’s probable that many people will be affected by autism at some point in their lives. 

Alpha Xi Delta works to raise awareness for autism by raising funds for Autism Speak through a male beauty pageant called Xi Man and through Light It Up Blue.

According to Lindsay Banks, the philanthropy chair of Alpha Xi Delta, “‘Light It Up Blue’ is an opportunity for the campus and the community to unite for a common cause. This is an opportunity for Monmouth to call attention to a growing problem that affects so many in this community.” 

Alpha Xi Delta will work to raise awareness for autism throughout the month of April. On April 13 at 7 p.m., they will host an event called Students Write for Autism in the Dahl Chapel and Auditorium. Monmouth College students will have the opportunity to present original works, such as short plays, for a good cause.  Admission is $1, and students will be submitting original artwork for sale.  All proceeds will go to Autism Speaks.