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Club Spotlight – Autismerica

By   /   February 8, 2013  /   Comments Off

Sonja Vukajlovic, Treasurer of Autismerica, and Tyler Hrunek, member at large, all smiles at the most recent meeting.

Sonja Vukajlovic, Treasurer of Autismerica, and Tyler Hrunek, member at large, all smiles at the most recent meeting.

COD’s Autismerica has been bringing students with special needs together for two years now with their social gatherings every second Thursday of the month. Students, parents, and members from around the community meet in SSC 1200 for video games, board games, ping pong, pool, table tennis, popcorn, beverages, and a presentation that explores an aspect of college success. There are about 50-70 members in the organization and it is open to everyone in DuPage County.

Counselor for students with special needs Michael Duggan along with Accommodations Specialist Sheryl Ebersold, formed Autismerica after noticing many students with special needs around campus. The idea was successful from the start with about 50 people at the first meeting. Along with the help of officers: Jason Zielinski (President), Ben Zielinski (Vice President), Sonja Vukajlovic (Treasurer), Joshua Romaniak (Secretary), Tyler Hrunek (Member at Large), meetings always turn out to be loads of fun, especially because of all the donated video game sets such as Wiis, Play Station 3s, and Xbox 360s.

“Our mission is to provide a safe, social space for these people and to let them connect,” commented Duggan.

“We also want everyone to feel included and welcome.”

Autismerica has interacted with tutoring services, ASPERITECH (an organization that helps people with autism find jobs), career services, and independent living services. Due to their success, Continuing Education/Extended Learning began the Reach Out program, which provides students with developmental disabilities courses that teach communication skills.

1 in 10 community college students has a learning disability and there are roughly a thousand at COD. Autismerica hopes to continue to grow and expand the courses offered for students with disabilities. Their next meeting is Feb. 14 where they will have guest speaker, Jeffrey Christiansen from the Criminal Justice department. He will talk about identity theft and how to work with a police officer when you’re in trouble. For more information, visit the Autismerica Facebook page (www.facebook.com/autismerica) or contact Michael Duggan at duggan@cod.edu.

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  • Published: 1 year ago on February 8, 2013
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  • Last Modified: February 7, 2013 @ 8:57 pm
  • Filed Under: Features

About the author

Rosalie DeAstis

Rosalie DeAstis is a freshman at the college and going for a degree in marketing. She graduated from Addison Trail High School in Addison, Illinois in June 2012. Rosalie was the columnist and Co-features editor of her high school paper during her junior year. Senior year she earned the spot of Managing Editor and remained the columnist as well. She was a cheerleader all through high school but is now just focusing on her two jobs. Aside from her new position on the Courier she has been working for Claire’s/Icing accessory stores for almost two years. Rosalie also enjoys drawing, hot yoga, and spending time with her big, Italian family. features@cod.edu 630-942-2713

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