CWRU to raise awareness of autism throughout April

Peter B. Lewis Building blue
Last year, the Peter B. Lewis Building was lit up in blue for autism awareness. Photo by Susan Griffith.

Earlier this year, Case Western Reserve University researchers reported a scientific explanation for why children with autism withdraw into their own worlds: At rest, their brains actually generate significantly more information than those of children without autism.

This study was just the latest example of groundbreaking research about autism spectrum disorder from Case Western Reserve faculty. The university’s growing expertise in the area is matched with campuswide efforts to draw attention to the disease and the need for additional funding to support the search for answers.

In recognition of World Autism Awareness Day April 2, Case Western Reserve is hosting several special activities across campus this week. In addition, events will take place throughout April for Autism Awareness Month.

On April 1, Case Western Reserve’s student chapter of Autism Speaks U will hold its “Light It Up Blue” fundraising dinner in the Thwing Center ballroom. Tickets for the formal dinner are $7 at the door and include dinner, entertainment and speakers on research and volunteering for autism-related causes.

On April 2, areas of campus will participate in the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. For the fourth year in a row, the Peter B. Lewis Building’s exterior will be awash in blue and, for the first time, this year the Allen Memorial Library Building will do the same.

In addition, from April 2-9, the LED panels, or “light blades,” in Toby’s Plaza in Uptown will feature blue lighting and work by an artist with autism. The artist, Seth Chwast, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as a child and considered nonverbal; at age 20, he took his first art class, and by 23, he was featured on the Today show for his artwork—the way in which he chose to communicate his thoughts on the world around him. His paintings have been displayed around the world, including at the United Nations.

Finally, on April 23, the university’s International Center for Autism Research and Education will sponsor a “Global Café” in recognition of Autism Awareness Month. Throughout the day, faculty members and researchers from Case Western Reserve will present on a variety of topics, such as social and language assessment; behavior management; and motor, cognitive and language development. They will be joined online by colleagues from across the country—including at Yale University, University of California–Los Angeles and Duquesne University. The event will be live-streamed from the faculty’s respective institutions and open to the campus community for viewing in Kelvin Smith Library 215 and at the Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program’s Beachwood facility.

“The Centers for Disease Control has just announced findings that autism spectrum disorder diagnoses are even more prevalent than previously thought,” said Deputy Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lynn Singer, “emphasizing the importance of research centers like the International Center for Autism Research and Education here in Cleveland.”

For more information on the autism center’s work at Case Western Reserve, visit