In line with autism awareness month, SUNY Canton will be hosting nationally-recognized “autism ambassador” Aaron Likens for a day of awareness-raising presentations.
Likens was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 20 years old, and has since authored “Finding Kansas,” a book about living and finding peace with this form of autism. Likens will hold three presentations on April 2:
- A noon session for faculty, staff and students.
- A 3 p.m. session specifically for law enforcement personnel.
- A 6 p.m. session that is free and open to the public.
All events will be in the SUNY Canton Richard W. Miller Campus Center’s Kingston Theater.
There has been a growing demand in all sectors of society to learn more about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Likens has become one of the most preeminent speakers on the issue and its impact on education, law enforcement, employment and medical care. He emphasizes the need to find ways to “celebrate, not separate” those with autism or other disabilities.
“When we received word of Aaron’s work and the impact of his presentations on audiences, we immediately reached out to see about bringing him to SUNY Canton,” said University Police Chief Alan P. Mulkin. “While it’s crucial for police officers to understand how autistic individuals behave or react, I believe he can teach everyone more about spectrum disorders.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 59 American schoolchildren is on the autism spectrum. Almost half of children identified with ASD has average to above average intellectual ability. Autistic adults make up a large and extremely diverse minority population.
One of the common problems for autistic people is sensory overload, according to Liken. “We in the spectrum pick up every sound, every smell, confusing lights,” he said in a previous presentation. “We don’t have the ability to filter that stuff out.”
Likens presentations are cosponsored by the St. Lawrence County-David Sullivan Law Enforcement Academy and the SUNY Canton Student Affairs Division.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY’s leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 16 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference.