Autism Awareness Events
In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month every April since the 1970s.
The Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) and Mercyhurst University join the Autism Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania in providing opportunities with the autism community during April.
April 18, 2012: Author Sean Barron
Sean is a very interesting and intelligent young man who has faced the challenge of autism. He and his mother wrote an insightful book, There's a Boy in Here, about their lives together. Published in 2002, it has won many accolades for offering the unique perspectives of two people who look at the same world but see and feel entirely different things. Sean’s emotions controlled his social behavior. Baffled by social rules, isolated and friendless, he made up his own, and applied them to others. When he inevitably broke society's rules, he felt worthless and unloved. With great effort, Sean has progressed to the point that it is difficult to even realize that he once was truly impacted by autism/Asperger Syndrome. Sean is a graduate of Youngstown State University, and works as a reporter for the Youngstown Vindicator. He’s pursuing a second degree in journalism. He is now a freelance writer, lives independently, and recently co-authored Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships with Dr. Temple Grandin.
He presented "A Forum for Young Adults: Developing Social Relationships" and spoke to the general public about "Ten Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships." He focused on how the autistic way of thinking affects social relationships.
April 16, 2011: Matt Savage, talented jazz pianist, composer, performer, and Autistic Savant
The 18-year old debuted his ninth album, Welcome Home, in November 2010. The record was produced by Grammy-nominated Jonathan Wyner and engineered by nine-time Grammy winner Tom Bates. Composed and arranged entirely by Matt, Welcome Home featured both a quintet and a trio to showcase Matt's music and included the five-part "Big Apple Suite," inspired by Matt's landmark musical appearances in Manhattan.
Matt's career and travels began at the age of 7 when he released his first album and was hailed as a jazz prodigy. At the age of 11, Matt debuted at the famed Blue Note (and was signed as an artist for Bösendorfer pianos). The following year, he appeared at Birdland with the legendary Clark Terry on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on sax, Jon Faddis on trumpet, Marcus McLaurine on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. In 2007, Matt made his first appearance at the prestigious Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center and, in 2009, he debuted "Big Apple Suite" at New York's Cachaça Jazz Club.
April 14 & 15, 2011: Dr. Gena Barnhill
April 6, 2011: Mary and Max
Presented as part of the Guelcher Film Series at Mercyhurst, the Sundance Award-winning film spans 20 years and two continents and tells of a pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a lonely 8-year-old living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia; and Max Horovitz, an obese, 44-year-old Jewish man with Asperger Syndrome living in New York City. The clay animation film was followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Jennifer Pasternak, Dr. Douglas Della Toffolo, Janet Pawlowski, and a parent of a young man on the spectrum as well as a local adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder.