September 27, 2020

By NATALEIGH MCCALLUMNatatleighMcCallum
A is for Autism. A is for Asperger’s. A is for the A-team.
No, not the A-team from the famous TV show Pretty Little Liars but rather, our very own group of Conestoga students who are affected by autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD. These students have created their own support group to help others who find themselves on the spectrum.
The autistic spectrum is a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders, ranging from autism to Asperger’s syndrome. One in 68 people are affected by it.
“If you have met one person on the autism spectrum, you have met only one person on the spectrum,” said Charlie Matjanec, the co-facilitator of the A-team awareness group as he tried to explain how different each person is when it comes to autism.
ASD is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication problems and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of ASD while Asperger’s syndrome is a milder form.
“Autism is a developmental issue where processing of information, being able to maintain good eye contact and communication is very awkward,” Matjanec said.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day across the world – also known as “Light It Up Blue” – a day in which the world illuminates to show support. Adopted by the United Nations in 2007, it has shone a bright light on autism.
This year will mark Conestoga’s third annual Awesome Awareness event, where students who are part of the A-team will host interactive games, show videos, tell their stories, talk about every day struggles and give information on what exactly ASD is and how they can help if you find yourself on the spectrum. This will take place at the Doon campus near Door 5 by Tim Hortons.
“Let’s bring some knowledge and understanding to the neurotypical world as to what the condition is and how we can work together to avoid discrimination and make life easier for everyone,” Matjanec said.
April 2 is not a day that represents a disease that needs a cure. April 2 marks a day in which everyday people stand together to support others who find themselves on the autism spectrum and live day to day like everyone else.

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