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MacArthur High School Lights it Up Blue for Autism Awareness

April 2 has been designated World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism is a cause that MacArthur High School social studies teacher Vince Causeman holds dear to his heart.

To see his entire school participate in a worldwide campaign to raise awareness for the disorder nearly left him speechless.

Causeman and special education instructor Resti Ionna inspired MacArthur students and staff to participate in "Light it Up Blue", an international effort by Autism Speaks, for the first time last spring.

This past Monday, the school participated for the second straight year.

"Last year was the first doing it here and the response was amazing," said Causeman, whose two children have been diagnosed with autism. "This year was even greater, especially from the students. They do it our of the goodness of their heart, not because they're forced to or because they have to. That's what is really amazing."

The students not only participated by sporting light blue Monday, but many of them dedicated their weekend to decorating the school and preparing items to sell in order to generate additional funds for autism research.

"It's something that you can't put into words," Causeman explained. "As a parent of autistic children, it obviously means a tremendous amount, but even as a teacher, to see kids in high schol with so much going on respond like that just amazes me."

Throughout the day, MacArthur staff took time to speak with their classes in depth about autism and exactly what it is, which Causeman believes may be the most important factor of the entire campaign.

"The number of children being diagnosed keeps increasing," he said. "It's now one out of every 88 children being born. When I ask my class how many people know someone with autism, almost every hand goes up. It's something thats effecting a lot of people and unfortunately no one knows really anything about it."

"I just hope to raise awareness," Causeman added. "My hope is that when my children grow older are in school, the kids they go to school with know what's going on and treat them with more understanding and care."


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