Campus & Culture

5 Ways to Recognize Autism Awareness Month with the Kinney Center

The lights of Barbelin Hall shining blue in honor of National Autism Awareness Month.

The lights of Barbelin Hall shining blue in honor of National Autism Awareness Month.

Throughout the month of April, families and advocates commemorate National Autism Awareness Month, a month that aims to increase the understanding and acceptance of those affected by autism. Saint Joseph’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support's programs serve families and individuals affected by autism today, while educating the autism professionals of tomorrow. Here are five ways to recognize National Autism Awareness Month this year through the Kinney Center: 

1. Attend the Next Unlimited Learning Webinar Series: Bridging the Gap between Adolescence & Adulthood: The Importance of Transitional Services

As Saint Joseph’s Unlimited Learning series continues, join University experts Jessica Joseph, Ph.D, BCBA, director of programs at the Kinney Center, and Cheryl George, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Special Education, on Apr. 19 to hear about various transitional services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental disabilities, and how parents and educators can help teens and pre-teens gain lifelong skills and tools for success. They will also discuss how transition preparation can be integrated into a teen’s everyday life, how the role of caregivers and educators change with time, and how to be supportive to individuals with autism and those with differing abilities throughout their lives. This conversation will be moderated by former Kinney ASPIRE student David Werner ’20.

2. Take Part in Kinney Family Fun Day

Gather the family for the Kinney Center's Family Fun Day on Sunday, Apr. 18. Each two-hour time slot includes a petting zoo, professional family photography, crafts, games and snacks. The cost is $25 per family. Please note that all COVID-19 health and safety protocols must be followed and a maximum of 15 families can sign up for each time slot. 

3. Earn a Neurodiversity at Work Certification

Beginning this month, the Kinney Center and Saint Joseph's Academy of Food Marketing are collaborating to provide a diversity at work certification for human resource professionals and managers in the food industry. The five-week course will meet weekly about a variety of different topics including benefits of a neurodiverse workforce and building empathetic and supportive teams. The series will feature speakers from top organizations including Popcorn for the People and Wawa. Register here and view the full list of speakers and topics. 

4. Register for Skills and Sports Saturday

The Kinney Center recently launched Skills and Sports Saturday, a weekly outdoor program to further develop social and sports skills for individuals with autism ages 5 and up. The four-hour program will be split into a skills and sports lesson with a half hour dedicated to lunch. Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball program will volunteer at the Apr. 17 sports lessons to offer their athletic expertise, have fun and give program participants the chance to meet some of their favorite Hawks. All of the sessions are staffed by Kinney Center experts.

5. Learn More About Kinney’s New Director of Employment Service

David Square joins the Kinney team on Apr. 26 as the new director of employment services. In this role, Square will work with the Kinney staff to support both ASPIRE students and Transitional Bridge clients. He will both ensure that students have the skills necessary to gain employment and secure internships, along with long-term placements in fields of interest for them. Additionally, Square will act as an advocate for neurodiversity in the workplace, building relationships with employers and training them to manage and support employees on the spectrum. 

He has spent more than 15 years working in varying capacities in the field of intellectual disabilities throughout New York City, working with school-age children and young adults in all types of programs, which include Day Habilitation, Recreation and Vocational Programming. Before joining Saint Joseph’s, he worked at City Access New York as the Manager of Vocational Services with different businesses in the NYC area placing individuals with and without autism spectrum disorder at potential work and volunteer sites where they can be most successful. Square shares that he is looking forward to dedicating himself to helping families and students at the Kinney Center and the surrounding Philadelphia area.

To learn more about the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, visit kinneyautism.sju.edu.