The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Lecture to discuss autism awareness

Leila Green | Thursday, March 22, 2012

Alison Singer, founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation, will give a lecture at the third annual Autism Conference tonight on current scientific research regarding autism.

Junior Brooke Conti, president of the Special Friends Club, which co-sponsors the event, said she hopes this event will help dispel common myths about autism.

“It is not a very well characterized disorder,” she said. “Hearing a professional would be helpful to clarify any misconceptions.”

Conti said Singer will present current developments within the scientific research community, as well as the importance of autism awareness.

She said Singer will also discuss the relationship between autism advocacy and science.

The Autism Science Foundation, which Singer founded in 2009, provides funding to scientists conducting research to discover the causes of autism and develop better treatments, according to the organization’s website.

Singer, a mother of an autistic child, has appeared on Oprah, NBC Nightly News, CNN and Good Morning America to advocate for research of the disorder, according to the Autism Science Foundation website.

Conti said part of the Special Friends Club’s mission is to educate campus about autism research and support.

Students involved in the Special Friends club work with people with autism from the South Bend and surrounding communities and form close bonds with them, Conti said.

Throughout the year, Conti said students spend time socializing, doing homework or assisting with therapy with the people they are paired with once a week.

Conti said the time students put into helping their “special friends” makes a big difference in their lives.

“[Autism is] a social disorder,” she said. “The more that you interact with a person really helps them. Even if they’re different, they’re not that different.”

The conference will take place Thursday in Jordan Hall of Science room 105 at 7 p.m.

Contact Leila Green at lgreen2@nd.edu