By Kimberly Cushwa
William Penn seniors Gary DiCiasare, Michael Needles, and Alexis Parker decided to run a t-shirt campaign to help inform the students of WPHS of the ever-prevalent affects of autism. This campaign is being run as to fulfill their Senior Legacy Project, a project required by all Penn seniors in order to graduate.
Autism, a mental condition characterized by a difficulty communicating and forming relationships with others, is widely known – but not many understand the deep-set effects it has on those diagnosed with this condition along with their families. Autism is stigmatized as a child’s disease, a relation that may be caused by television advertisements that cover autism awareness. This is a stigma that DiCiasare, Needles, and Parker are trying to disprove
DiCiasare decided upon this topic for his legacy project because he “wanted to help people on the spectrum especially with me living through it since I was two and a half. At two and a half years old I was diagnosed on the spectrum so a great way to for my legacy is to help those like me on the spectrum.” The spectrum which he is referring to is the scale of functionality which doctors use when diagnosing someone with autism.
Needles followed up DiCiasare’s statement by saying that he was motivated because he cared about his friend. “We want to help as many know about this as possible and so instead of doing this alone the three of us decided to do it together.”
Current statistics from the Society for Autism state that every 1 in 45 Americans is diagnosed with some level or form of autism and that none of these cases have been proven to develop from a vaccine given during childhood. Many Neurodiversity advocates speak on the need to not cure autism or change a person with this disorder, but for society to grow and learn how to both accept their differences and the unique intellect that an autistic mind has to offer.
Those students interested in joining this campaign may purchase a tee shirt for only 10 dollars from either one of the three students involved or Mr. Jenkins in room N209 until they are sold out.