“Autism Speaks” offers more than just autism awareness


(Photo by Nik Popli)

Nik Popli, News Editor

Hundreds of students and community members came together Friday morning in support of autism awareness at a special program organized by Langley student Gabby Sutton. The event’s theme, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” was highlighted in the enthusiasm and support from all who attended.

Langley High School was lit in blue, using blue lights to illuminate the hallways. Students also participated in a blue out to celebrate the event and promote inclusion and acceptance in the classroom and beyond. Inspired by individuals on the autism spectrum, Sutton coordinated the event to educate as many people as possible about autism along with ensuring true appreciation of the unique aspects of all people.

Sutton hopes to see a day where those with autism are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts. “As I have interacted with those on the autism spectrum, I have come to a deeper understanding of their kindness, humor, acceptance, and capacity to enrich society and the lives of all those around them,” says Sutton. “Their courage and determination in overcoming challenges that many could never understand is one of the reasons they are heroes to me.”

In a proclamation issued on World Autism Awareness Day, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s praised people within the autism spectrum for their contributions to our society. His proclamation was read out load during the event, stating: “The Commonwealth is honored to take part in the annual observance of Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Day in the hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the disorder. Now, therefore, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize April 2016 as Autism Awareness Month and April 2, 2016, as World Autism Awareness Day in our Commonwealth of Virginia, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.”

Those attending the event included representatives from the governor’s office and Autism Speaks D.C. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock spoke to the crowd about how every person is born with unique talents and should be treated with respect. It is important for everyone to feel empowered to fully participate in and contribute to their communities.

“It was a great event overall because it really just creates more of a community and kills these misconceptions surrounding such a vague and open-ended issue,” said sophomore Bijan Boroumand. “I think it really helps people come closer, just not to each other, but as a community in general, and as Gabby said, one person did this much, so imagine what one hundred people could do.”

Students gathered in the courtyard to raise awareness for the Autism Speaks initiative on April 8, 2016.