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CV Starr Students Learn About Autism

 students raise their hands during Autism Speaks presentation

Does autism affect animals? Do you know what causes autism? If you have two parents with autism, does that mean you will have it too?

These are just a few of the thoughtful questions asked by CV Starr students after an engaging presentation from Eddie Russo of Autism Speaks. During his talk, Russo discussed autism, inclusion, kindness and ways to spread awareness.

Russo began his presentation by explaining autism. He noted that no two people with autism are the same, but that they might have challenges communicating, avoid eye contact, have unusual reactions to senses or have intense interests. Russo told students that one girl he knows loves the musician Drake so much that she can recite every song on every one of his albums as well as the year it came out.

Russo then discussed the ways people can be different. He had students raise their hands if they like scary movies, have blonde hair or think spelling is hard, noting that everyone has different challenges and different strengths.

“We are all unique in our own way,” he said. “Even though we are friends, we have so many differences.”

Russo encouraged students to try to “walk in someone else’s shoes” to understand them better and to show kindness.

“Be patient,” he said. “Everyone moves and speaks at their own speed. Keep extending kindness. Don’t be afraid to ask again.”

At the end of his talk, Russo told students that Autism Speaks works to make people aware of autism.

“That’s why we come out and speak at schools like yours,” he said. “We hope you’ll share what you have learned about autism with your friends and your family.”

When Russo opened the floor for questions, students demonstrated how intently they had been listening. They were curious about autism itself as well as Russo’s experience working with Autism Speaks.

“What’s the most interesting thing you have learned about autism?” one student asked.

“I think it’s that there is no set autism,” Russo said. “It shows itself differently with every person it affects.”