UC Riverside Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

Bell tower to be lit with blue light through April 12; SEARCH Director Jan Blacher to make pair of presentations on research into the neural development disorder

Bell tower and moon

Since 2012, the UCR Bell Tower has been lit in blue light in April in recognition of Autism Awareness Month. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu)  —The bell tower at the University of California, Riverside will be bathed in a blue light throughout the first two weeks of April in recognition of Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. But the illumination of the iconic landmark is just one of a trio campus events designed to raise awareness of the neural development disorder.

On Tuesday, April 23, Jan Blacher, director of UCR’s SEARCH (Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope) Family Autism Resource Center and distinguished professor in the UCR Graduate School of Education will present a lecture called “1 in 88, Autism in Your Community and Why You Should Care.” The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at noon in Highlander Union Building (HUB) Room 260 and will discuss the high incidence of the disorder, present a snapshot of the latest research about autism, as well as data from a recent campus-wide study of autism awareness of UCR and the implications of these findings for Southern California.

“Whether they realize it or not, autism touches everyone. It’s not just limited to parents, it’s siblings, relatives, friends and neighbors,” Blacher said. “When I made this presentation in Palm Desert, it was to a full house. If you Google the word “Autism,” you get 63.6 million results. People care about this and they want to learn more.”

Blacher and SEARCH will host a workshop for the teachers and employees of the UCR Child Development Center called “Recognizing and Embracing Autism” on Saturday, April 6th, from 9 to 11 a.m. in Pentland Hills Room 107.

Jan Blacher

Jan Blacher, founding director of SEARCH, a family autism resource center at UC Riverside

“The workshop is an opportunity for UCR personnel to stay on top of the latest issues in child development,” Blacher said.

SEARCH is the University of California’s first family autism resource center focused exclusively on family needs, such as educational access. Housed in the UC Riverside Graduate School of Education, SEARCH provides support, education, advocacy, resources, community and hope to families who have loved ones on the autism spectrum through its autism screening clinic, community outreach activities and online resources.

“In addition to providing a living laboratory for doctoral students learning research, SEARCH is a true university-community outreach effort,” Blacher said.  “Developing and participating in events during Autism Awareness month are part of that effort.”

And of course, the blue bell tower will stand out on the campus through April 12 as part of the world-wide Light it Up Blue campaign, sponsored by Autism Speaks. It is the second consecutive year that UCR has participated, joining buildings around the globe, including the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Great Pyramids in Giza, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Empire State Building in New York City.

“This spectacular display of the UCR Bell Tower in blue lights would not have been possible without the support of Vice Chancellor James Sandoval and Highlander Union Building Director Todd Wingate,” Blacher said.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Tel: (951) 827-3849
E-mail: searchcenter@ucr.edu

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