Autismerica, a College of DuPage club created to help students on the autism spectrum meet in a supportive environment, is thriving 10 years after its start. The club introduces students, community members and their parents to a variety of resources at COD and in the DuPage County area.
COD Counselor and Professor Michael Duggan said the club provides services for a crucial need felt in the community.
“Autismerica serves a special and essential role in our community by providing a venue for those on the autism spectrum and their families to connect with others and be uniquely themselves,” he said. “All are welcome. From the minute our meetings end participants cannot wait for the next one—including myself.”
For the last decade, Autismerica has provided hundreds of students on the autism spectrum and their parents with not only information about available resources, but also opportunities for participants to socialize during a range of activities, including regular group meetings, guest speakers and outings such as bowling, video gaming or attending a softball game.
This year, facing challenges brought about by COVID-19, Autismerica rose to the occasion, while adhering to social distancing. Virtual meetings and phone appointments with students in distress helped provide support amid a high-anxiety situation. The Autismerica Facebook page, facebook.com/autismerica, also has served as a connection point for students.
Reflecting on the decade since the group’s inception, Duggan said he pleased to be a part of the club.
“Being a part of Autismerica is one of the most rewarding and memorable parts of my career, if not my life,” he said. “We are a family—we celebrate accomplishments, share sadness and grow together year after year. I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years will bring and then the next 10 after that.”