If you were to ask any member of JSU’s Alpha Xi Delta chapter what cause they are most passionate about, you will likely get the answer of Autism research, awareness, acceptance, and treatment.
With over 135,000 members across the country, Alpha Xi Delta has a long history of supporting child-focused issues.
Alpha Xi Delta officially partnered with Autism Speaks in 2009. With April being designated Autism Awareness month, you probably have seen “Light It Up Blue” signs around campus and town, as the ladies of the JSU Epsilon Pi Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta pour of all their collective energy into promoting this cause.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex and increasingly prevalent brain disorder, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 68 children are affected.
Most individuals know of someone in their family or circle of friends who have a family member on the Autism spectrum. With no known cause and no cure, boys are four times more likely to have the disorder than girls, and the diagnosis of ASD has more than doubled since 2002.
The financial cost to the patient, their families, and society is not insignificant. Most traditional insurance policies will not cover the costs for testing, counseling, and treatment, so these costs must be paid out of pocket. Many autistic individuals also struggle with being misunderstood or left out of social situations.
The Autistic spectrum includes a wide range of forms, from the milder forms such as Asperger’s Syndrome, where a person exhibits repetitive or obsessive behavior and some difficulty with communication and social interaction, to more severe cases, where the individual is totally non-communicative and needs assistance with everyday tasks.
Autism Speaks was founded in 2005, merging with the National Alliance for Autism Research and Cure Autism Now. As the nation’s leading autism awareness organization, the group works not just to raise awareness and funding, but to fight for legislative policy changes in support of autistic citizens on the state and federal level.
Over 100 bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress have formed the Congressional Autism Caucus to draft federal policies aimed at improving services and research to assist patients and their families. Autism Speaks focuses most of their funding on campaigning, raising awareness, and research.
The Alpha Xi Deltas at JSU feel passionately about the autistic community and work year-round to promote this cause. Their Philanthropy Chair Morgan Raines takes charge of planning the sorority’s activities. She explains that autistic people are capable and talented individuals that should not be looked down upon: “First off, people can help by accepting and loving autistic people. Ignoring them only makes matters worse. You don’t have to raise $10,000 to make a difference. Just being proactive and caring can change everything.”
This past fall, the Epsilon Pi chapter of Alpha Xi Delta at JSU hosted a color run and raised more than $13,000 in one morning. In the spring, the Alpha Xi Deltas set up a table in the TMB and sold candy, bracelets, buttons and more to raise money for Autism Speaks. They wear blue and don puzzle pieces to symbolize Autism awareness and acceptance.
Raines also explains, “We visit a local school called The Learning Tree where Autistic children attend. We bring cupcakes, hang out with the students and just have a good time.” This school year alone, the Epsilon Pi chapter of Alpha Xi Delta at JSU has raised more than $15,000 for Autism awareness, and they hope to raise even more.
If you would like to know more about Alpha Xi Delta, Autism Speaks, or how to help and get involved, contact Morgan Raines at Mraines1@jsu.edu.