Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 1:56 pm | Fair 67º


CSU Channel Islands to Go Blue for Autism Awareness

CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) sophomore Samuel Capozzi doesn’t speak in the traditional sense, but his is the voice of many with autism.

Mini blue LED tea lights will be available at the event while supplies last. Click to view larger
Mini blue LED tea lights will be available at the event while supplies last.

Capozzi, 21, will be one of the students with autism who will address the crowd at CSUCI’s 6thAnnual Light It Up Blue 2017, a Global Autism Awareness Event. The observance will be 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, at the John Spoor Broome Library Plaza. The public is invited to attend.

The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 with the goal of bringing the world's attention to autism, a growing global health concern affecting at least 70 million people.

The CSUCI celebration is the Tuesday after the world event, in which the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Panama Canal, and Shanghai Tower in China will be among the 11,000 landmarks lit in blue in observance of those living with autism.

One of the facts advocates want to stress is that every person with autism is different and their characteristics are different.

Some, like Capozzi, are non-speaking. Capozzi communicates via an iPad, a keyboard and an app called “Proloquo4text” which opened up the world of verbal expression to him after he began using the technology at the age of 16.

He is now an honors student at CSUCI and a proud member of the honor society Gamma Beta Phi.

“I see the irony of my situation,” Capozzi said of being a voice for the voiceless. “The very guts of an autism diagnosis is social and communication impairment. However, my peers and I are rather adept communicators given the means to communicate.”
Capozzi and other student speakers on the autism spectrum will attempt to dispel some of the misconceptions and increase public knowledge about the often misunderstood condition.

One of the myths Capozzi wants to clear up is the concept that people on the autism spectrum don’t have emotions or care about people.

“People living with autism have feelings and care deeply about people,” Capozzi said. “Almost too deeply. Our bodies don’t listen to our brains at times. This can be quite confusing for everyone, including the individual with autism.”

Sponsored by the CSUCI Disability Resource Programs, the evening will feature speakers, a community resource fair, and a closing light ceremony in which the John Spoor Broome Library and the Central Mall will be illuminated with blue light.

CSUCI is offering free parking to the first 100 guests who place a request in

We Rock The Spectrum Kid's Gym in Agoura Hills will provide a small play area and there will be free refreshments and mini blue LED tea lights while supplies last.

“It is a time to take action to highlight available resources, hear the voices of our students with autism and unite for inclusion, respect and the ability of children and adults with autism,” said Valeri Cirino-Paez, assistant director of Access, Orientation and Transition programs at CSUCI.

Capozzi said he plans to attend law school after graduating with a baccalaureate degree in political science. After law school, he plans to become a public advocate for those on the autism spectrum.

Capozzi has already been to Washington, D.C., in his capacity as a board member for the Autism Society Ventura County. He participated in a nationwide event called Ignite for Autism.

“My hope is that people will not only learn awareness and acceptance regarding autism, but also compassion and celebration toward us,” Capozzi said. “We are more like you than not.”

— Kim Gregory for CSU Channel Islands.


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