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The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

“Celebrate the Spectrum” builds community, provides resources 

Perla Carrillo Arias
On April 6, 2024, artwork done by elementary students was showcased in support of autism at “Celebrate the Spectrum”.

Complete with bright colors and plenty of activities, the third annual “Celebrate the Spectrum” event was held at New Mexico State University’s Preciado Park on Saturday, April 6. 

Open to students, families, and the Las Cruces community at large, the event celebrated individuals with autism, as well as those who love and support them. Hosted by the Papen Aprendamos Autism Diagnostic Center, “Celebrate the Spectrum” offered a variety of activities, including bouncy houses, face-painting, Legos, play clinics, and more – all designed to create a fun, sensory-rich experience. 

“One of the dreams that we created when we first got our center started is that we wanted the autism community to feel like they belonged and felt like they were part of a community,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Kali Hall. “And so, we wanted to have an event where families can be families and kids with autism can be kids with autism out in a public space … and that they could belong.” 

Charlene Curry, director of Therapaws, poses with her furry friend who is trained to be a companion to those who need it. April 6, 2024. (Perla Carrillo Arias)

This sense of community was evident at the event, with over 700 people filtering in throughout the day. NMSU itself is a vital part of this community, who Hall credited with “tremendous” support for both the event and their organization. 

“We want to continue creating that community support for everyone and then also just get families familiar with agencies, get them comfortable, get them to understand that there is help,” said Monica Nosseir, Family Support Provider at the Papen Aprendamos Autism Diagnostic Center. “Once you reach a diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that you’re kind of left alone.”  

To illustrate this point, “Celebrate the Spectrum” had over 30 organizations tabling and volunteering. Several of these groups were NMSU-based, including National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) and Best Buddies. Others were from the Las Cruces community, such as the Museum of Nature and Science, the Las Cruces Police Department, and the Therapaws therapy dogs, all to provide as many resources as possible. 

“I just think it’s important that people understand more things about autism and not have as many like stereotypes and, you know, preconceived notions before coming to this, because I think some people can really have thoughts in their mind of stereotypes that honestly are not true,” NSSLHA volunteer Kendall Howard said. “So, it’s just good to just be aware of different people that you’re going to be around.” 

This type of education is another primary goal of “Celebrate the Spectrum” – to spread awareness about autism not only at NMSU, but throughout society in general.

Artwork done by attendees of “Celebrate the Spectrum”. April 6, 2024. (Perla Carrillo Arias)

“I think it [the awareness] is growing,” Nosseir said. “As our numbers increase, and there’s more awareness, I think that’s just gonna eventually grow with understanding not only the support that the autism community needs, but also understanding how we can individually help and make a change.” 

According to Nosseir and Hall, the biggest way to make that change is simple. While it’s important to educate ourselves as to what autism actually is, it shouldn’t be stigmatized or treated as “outlandishly odd”. Instead, individuals with autism should just be allowed to be normal kids.  

“Let’s not act like autism is something that doesn’t exist,” Hall said. “It’s one in 36. Let’s support it and celebrate it and let them know that we see them, that they belong and let them have fulfilling and inclusive lives.”  

For more information about autism and available services, visit NMSU’s Papen Aprendamos Autism Diagnostic Center website

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About the Contributors
Adeline Triplett
Adeline Triplett, Staff Writer
Adeline Triplett is starting her second year with The Round Up. She is a senior at NMSU, majoring in Journalism & Media Studies with a focus in print/editorial and a minor in International Studies. Adeline was raised in Farmington, New Mexico. She has always had a love of writing and reading due to growing up with parents who are teachers. Adeline began writing creatively in elementary school and has continued ever since. She discovered her passion for journalism in high school and hopes to make a positive impact with her stories. Outside of school and writing, Adeline enjoys spending time with friends and family, binging movies and shows, and traveling as much as possible. Moving forward, she hopes that working at The Round Up will help her grow as a writer and in her future career.
Perla Carrillo Arias
Perla Carrillo Arias, Photojournalism Intern
Perla Carrillo Arias is entering her first semester at The Round Up as a photojournalism intern. She is a senior at NMSU, majoring in Business Marketing with a focus on Advertising and a minor Social Media Management. Perla was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A passionate traveler and avid reader, Perla finds inspiration in exploring new places and immersing herself in diverse experiences. Perla’s love for photography and videography sprouted when she was a just little girl. She reminisces going through hundreds of photographs her mom has captured and having the realization of how important it is to have memories. When she’s not behind the lens, Perla can be found indulging in her love for literature, spending time with her family, or tuning into thought-provoking podcasts that ignite her curiosity. Perla is looking forward to acquiring knowledge from the team and further developing her photographic skills at The Round Up.

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