Hussman Center celebrates World Autism Awareness Day every day

By Megan Bradshaw on March 30, 2018

TU’s center for adults with autism provides cutting-edge group programming, training and resources in a supportive environment

Monday, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, an annual event designed to promote awareness, acceptance and support of individuals on the autism spectrum.

But the staff, participants and students at Towson University’s Hussman Center for Adults with Autism practice that awareness every day.

Part of Towson University’s Institute for Well-Being, the Hussman Center supports individuals 18 years and older who are on the autism spectrum with cutting-edge group programming, training and resources throughout the year.

The center also offers College Orientation and Life Activities (COLA) for TU students on the spectrum that help with planning for success in college.

“Our mission is to provide opportunities for adults with autism to be fully engaged members of their community through its activities in student education, program development and research,” said Cathy Clark, director of the Occupational Therapy Center and Hussman Center for Adults with Autism.

The center’s community integration programs are designed for those who wish to enhance social engagement, employment readiness and healthy living.

Work exploration programs are designed for participants who are ready to explore and practice work skills. These programs allow for exploration of work interests and development of social communication and task-specific skills.

Collaborative therapeutic programs are offered in conjunction with the Occupational Therapy Center, Speech & Language Center and the Department of Nursing. Under the supervision of their professors, professional-level students lead the programs and activities and support participants in learning and enhancing specific skills important for adult life.

“Mentoring at the Hussman Center is a life-altering experience that really changes the way you look at society, said Clark.

From the therapeutic programs to the social groups and fundraisers, over 200 TU peer mentors and practicum students from more than 30 majors are involved in Hussman Center learning experiences each year.

The Friday evening social groups are dynamic, interactive experiences for adults with autism and TU students, with themes ranging from talent shows to party games. These events, which are offered seven times per semester, provide information opportunities for social interaction.

Every winter, the Hussman Center partners with the TU men’s basketball team to hold an autism awareness game at SECU Arena during one of the team’s home games. The Tigers wear a special, light blue uniform and SECU Arena offers a sensory safe room, shorter concession lines and other accommodations for individuals with autism.

Related: A campus-wide focus on autism

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This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Campus