SJU Marks Autism Awareness Month

Kinney Center hosts week of events aimed at education, community-building

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (March 27, 2013) —Saint Joseph’s University’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support will host a week of events, April 7-12, aimed at raising autism awareness and promoting the Center’s growing list of services for the autism community.

A lecture, featuring best-selling author Kathy Lette, will mark the University’s 9th Annual Autism Awareness Day, on Thursday, April 11. Lette’s most recent novel, The Boy Who Fell to Earth, chronicles her experiences raising a son on the autism spectrum. The novel is being made into a feature film.

Lette’s talk, to be held at 11:30 a.m., in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow at the Kinney Center in Connelly Hall. Registration is encouraged at

“Kathy’s candor and humor make her accessible and admirable,” says Michelle Rowe, Ph.D., executive director of the Kinney Center and professor of health services. “We hope she is an inspiration for the families, caretakers and professionals working on the front lines in the autism community.”

Rowe also notes that Lette’s experiences with her now adult son will be of particular interest, as the Kinney Center recently launched programming for this segment of the autism population.

As the University expands its observation of Autism Awareness Month, the Kinney Center will also host several other events:

  • A “Books, Beer and Burgers Benefit” with local author Dorothy Potash will be held on Sunday, April 7, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Saint James Restaurant in Ardmore, Pa. Potash will sign copies of her book Sam and Me, a children’s book about a boy and his brother who has autism. The cost is $75, and proceeds benefit the Kinney Center.
  • A discussion of the new diagnostic criteria for mental health conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorders will be held Tuesday, April 9, at 11:30 a.m., in the Cardinal Foley Center. The proposed changes are controversial, and early reports suggest that the changes would result in significantly fewer individuals meeting diagnostic criteria. Psychologist Judith Miller, Ph.D., and Gail Stein, LSW, ACSW, both from the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania’s Center for Autism Research, will review the changes and how they may or may not affect individuals and families.
  • A fashion show, featuring clothing by Louella Boutique (Wayne, Pa.), will be held Wednesday, April 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Aronimink Golf Club (Newtown Square, Pa.). Tickets are $50. All proceeds benefit the Kinney Center.

“So much of what we’ve been able to accomplish is a direct result of the support of our local community,” says Ryan Hammond, director of business development and strategic initiatives for the Kinney Center. “For us, this week’s programming is about standing together and celebrating that connection.”

About the Kinney Center: With its roots in the Jesuit mission of service and cura personalis, or care for the whole person, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support seeks to address the needs of those who struggle day-to-day with autism, either as individuals or caregivers. The mission of the Kinney Center is to provide multi-disciplinary education and research opportunities for students, teachers, professionals and parents who seek to improve and extend opportunities, outcomes, quality of life and best practices in treatment for people with ASD. The Kinney Center offers services, resources and information; support and guidance; and tools for public and individual advocacy that contribute to improved autism awareness and care.

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Director of Communications, College of Arts and Sciences, University Communications, 610-660-1385,


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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