A bustle of holiday excitement filled the room. Enthusiastic dancers took to the floor to express kindled euphoria. Many fun activities could be found at all corners of the room ranging from sumo wrestling to photography.
Dance music ranged from rock hits from years past to many of today’s popular hits, including the coveted song “Gangam Style” by Korean artist Psy. Popular songs were emphasized by the occasional flood of people to the dance floor. Some party participants sung karaoke, exhibiting some of the unique skills found among those on the autism spectrum.
Jose Luis Fernandez-Garcia, college professor who specializes in balloon shapes, sits at a table taking requests from party guests. He was even able to improvise a balloon bow and arrow. At my request, he taught me how to shape the balloon properly and create a sword. Even though I lost track of the sword in all of the excitement, I can now saw that I learned balloon shaping from an expert who happened to be a Spanish Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It is great to know that so many people are willing to learn more about autism which helps prevent ignorance.
Also in attendance was a former Michigan State Basketball player, Anthony Ianni, who is on the autism spectrum and advocates for autism awareness. Ianni, who is about six foot eight, has overcome many challenges in the past to get where he is today. He is certainly a powerful role model for children on the spectrum as well as their parents.
Dr. Timothy Larbbee, new Associate Dean of the School of Education attended the party.
“It’s amazing,” Larbbee said which summarized all the activities in the room.
Even though the holidays are now over fond memories are savored as we enter 2013; a year of many opportunities. A sparkling tree filled a corner of the room, highlighting many long traditions that have brought happiness to many.