By Thomas Scavetta
Assistant Sports Editor
Do you have any friends or family members who have been diagnosed with autism? The Delta Zeta chapter of Alpha Xi Delta is promoting awareness and raising money for children who suffer from autism. April is Autism Awareness month, and Alpha Xi Delta has been very active around campus to help the cause.
According to Olivia LaRocca, a junior Biology Education major, and philanthropy chair for Alpha Xi Delta, Autism Speaks is the sorority’s national philanthropy. On April 2, which is Autism Awareness Day, she and other members of Alpha Xi Delta lit up the fountain in front of Humanities Hall in blue, and made blue coffee stickers to show their support. They also had raffles and bake sales to raise funds for Autism Speaks.
“This is my first semester as philanthropy chair, but since I [was] initiated in fall 2013, I have been passionate about raising money and awareness for Autism Speaks. All the money raised towards Autism Awareness will help in research, family services, advancement, and advocacy,” LaRocca said. “It’s important that people embrace the uniqueness of people with autism because we generally have a poor perception of their abilities. By providing monetary relief we could make people more aware of the Autism Society,” she added.
For the 2014- 2015 school year, Alpha Xi Delta has raised $1,750, and still have a few more fundraising events this semester, according to LaRocca. One of LaRocca’s sisters, Marielisa Andaloro, mentioned how this means the world to her and the sorority.
Nobody knows what causes autism, but Alpha Xi Delta is attempting to provide a piece of the puzzle as a symbol for trying to find an answer. “Children who have autism generally need one-to-one intervention, and many don’t receive enough [help],” LaRocca said.
LaRocca said that the Autism Speaks effort stresses that people have a better understanding and knowledge of what causes this disability, and how to treat people who have it. “These children slowly process [what you speak] when you speak to them, and their brains can only process a certain amount of information at a time. Those who are on the autism spectrum are also usually speech and language impaired, but many autistic people are brilliant in their own unique way. Although children on the spectrum learn differently, they’re actually learning the same material as the average student,” she said.
Alpha Xi Delta’s slogan, “Individually Unique Together Complete,” sends the message that people with autism are different in special ways, LaRocca explained. “Alpha Xi Delta Listens,” is another quote that explains how the sorority understands what autistic people go through during their lives, and how they have a more complicated journey to be successful. “Some of the sisters in our sorority have siblings who suffer from autism,” LaRocca added.
Alpha Xi Delta is collecting money not only to find a cure, but also to change the lives of families who deal with autism. They also believe it’s important to learn more about different people on the spectrum, and try to help them through their difficulties since we’re surrounded by people with autism every day.
Autism affects one in every 68 children and is the fastest growing disease, according to Autism Speaks. Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed. “All of my sisters and myself hold our national philanthropy very dear to our hearts, as we all try to raise money and awareness for Autism Speaks. My sorority has received so much support from fellow Greeks and students at LIU Post in our fundraising efforts,” LaRocca concluded.