Kent State Hosts Student Speaker, Panel Discussion and Fundraiser for Autism Awareness Month

As part of Autism Awareness Month on April 27, Kent State University presents a student speaker with a panel discussion and a fundraiser for student scholarships to benefit Kent State students enrolled in the autism spectrum disorder graduate certificate. Faculty, staff, students and the entire community are invited to learn more about autism spectrum disorder, hear real-life experiences from a Kent State student who has autism and support Kent State students enrolled in the autism spectrum disorder certificate program. The events are free and open to the public.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, so people with autism spectrum disorder may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The CDC estimates about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, and in boys, autism spectrum disorder is about 4.5 times more common (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). Many who are high functioning are enrolling in postsecondary programs and entering professional careers.

Kent State student Travis Askew, a junior majoring in Russian literature, culture and translation, serves as the speaker for “Autism – An Identity” on April 27 at 3 p.m. in the Kent Student Center, Room 317. Askew offers an opportunity for attendees to step into the mind of someone who has autism. After his talk, a panel discussion of other Kent State students with autism will follow.

Watch a video about autism awareness at Kent State from last year that features Askew.

Also on April 27, a Rock-A-Thon will occur to raise scholarship money to benefit students working in rural and urban schools who are interested in obtaining the Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate. Rocking chair teams will keep their chairs occupied from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Kent Student Center, collecting donations from sponsors. A silent auction and rocking team competitions will be part of the festivities. All proceeds will support student Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate scholarships. Teams are forming, and donations are being collected now. Contact Lisa Audet, Ph.D., at to get involved.

“These events are to help spread autism awareness in the Kent State community,” said Gina Campana, special assistant in Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion who helped organize the autism awareness events.My hopes are for everyone to gain further understanding about this difference, please note I did not say disability, and accept those who may be socially reluctant sitting next to you.”

Audet, who is an assistant professor in Kent State’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, developer of the Autism Spectrum Intervention Specialist Certificate and coordinator of the Autism Initiative for Research, Education and Outreach, says the annual Rock-A-Thon is a fun way for people to get involved in Autism Awareness Month while also raising scholarship money benefiting Kent State students studying autism spectrum disorder.

“Events like this one increases our awareness of the possibility and potential of those with autism,” Audet said. “As professionals, our goal is to create systems where those with autism can succeed and contribute.”

For more information about the “Autism – An Identity” speaker and panel discussion on April 27, contact Campana at For more information about the Rock-A-Thon, also on April 27, contact Audet at Both events are sponsored by Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

For more information about the Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate, visit

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Media Contacts:
Gina Campana,, 330-672-8132
Lisa Audet,, 330-672-2672
Kristin Anderson,, 330-672-7907


POSTED: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 9:07am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 4:16pm
Emily Vincent