Kent State Presents “Living With Autism” Events for Autism Awareness Month

As part of Autism Awareness Month in April, Kent State University presents “Living With Autism,” which kicks off with a presentation that will be followed by a fundraiser for student scholarships to benefit Kent State students studying autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The events begin on April 9 at 7 p.m. Faculty, staff, students and the entire community are invited to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and hear real-life experiences from someone who was diagnosed with this “difference” at a young age and has written two books on the topic. The presentation is 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 almost five times more common (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).



Speaker, author and journalist Sean Barron will discuss his life journey while living with autism on April 9 from 7-8 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva. His talk will include a question-and-answer session. Immediately following, there will be a book signing and Rock-A-Thon to raise scholarship money to benefit students interested in obtaining the Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate and working in rural and urban schools. 

Rocking chair teams will keep their chairs occupied from 8-11:45 p.m. on April 9 and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on April 10, collecting donations from sponsors. Raffles 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.

Barron is the co-author of two books on autism: one titled “There’s a Boy in Here,” which was written with his mother, Judy, and the other titled “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships,” which was written with Temple Grandin, Ph.D., a well-known autism advocate.

Barron was diagnosed with classic autism in January 1967 at the age of 5 and had all of the common symptoms to varying degrees. The longest lasting and most persistent challenge associated with his difference was learning basic and complex social skills. With a lot of hard work, persistence, determination and the help of relatives and others, Barron gradually learned in his teen and young adult years how to better relate to others. 

For nearly 15 years, he has been a general-assignment journalist with The Vindicator newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio, and is putting the finishing touches on his third book, which is about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The title of this book is “A Handshake is More Powerful Than a Fist.” The reason Barron continues to share his life’s journey, after more than 20 years of doing so, remains the same: He has a desire to give encouragement to others who have the same or similar struggles as his, along with their families and friends.

“My goal is to help bring further awareness, understanding and compassion for those with autism spectrum disorder to Kent State and the surrounding communities,” said Gina Campana, special assistant in Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion who helped organize the autism awareness events. “There are many students, faculty and staff who have been diagnosed with ASD, know someone with ASD, or even think they may be on the spectrum. Mr. Barron will share the strengths and struggles of those on the spectrum and why being different can be a good thing. He will truly be an inspiration for those who attend the event.”  

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 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.

“The Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate prepares professionals to provide effective intervention to those with ASD,” Audet said. “As an online program, we have the capacity to extend the reach of a quality Kent State education to areas where access about assessment and intervention for those with ASD is not currently available. Creating a scholarship for the ASD Certificate will provide opportunities for qualified students from urban or rural areas, beyond the traditional Kent State boundaries, to gain valuable knowledge and increase outcomes for those with ASD. The Rock-a-Thon is a fun way to get everyone involved in this important mission, raise awareness and tolerance of ASD on the Kent State campuses, and honor Autism Awareness Month.”

For more information about the “Living With Autism” events on April 9, which is sponsored by Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, contact Campana at

For more information about the Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate, visit

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Media Contacts:
Gina Campana,, 330-672-8132
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 10:15am
UPDATED: Friday, January 11, 2019 - 4:23pm
Emily Vincent