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The Power Of One

PVHS Senior Aims To Raise Autism Awareness

Pequea Valley High School (PVHS) student Everett Kasian is like any other high school senior who has recently learned he will be attending the school of his choice in the fall. "I am going to study the music business," announced Kasian, who will matriculate at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. "I will be learning about producing and distributing."

Kasian, who has autism, has already used his filmmaking and graphic design talents as part of his senior project to raise autism awareness. "This started with my IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting (in May 2016)," explained Kasian. "I made a video about what it's like to have autism." Kasian showed the video at his IEP and later to the entire Pequea Valley School District (PVSD) faculty, administration, and staff at a fall convocation.

School speech and language pathologist Lauren Lefever was at the convocation to view the film. "Everett said a few things teachers should know about students with autism," she said. Kasian's English teacher plans to show the video in class as well.

"I got the idea from just going to school every day and the struggle to understand what people are saying and the way people (view) autism," said Kasian. "Not many people know (much) about it." Kasian said that the video was inspired by his autism diagnosis and his determination to explain that autism does not define him. "I am not different just because I don't talk," he explained. "I am the same as everybody else. I am a living, breathing human being."

Kasian decided to expand on the theme of the video for his senior project by making T-shirts. He chose to work with Lefever to complete the project. "I got the T-shirt idea about a week after showing the video (at the convocation). I wanted to do more, and I came up with the T-shirt design," said Kasian.

The T-shirts include five brightly colored handprints on an aqua background along with the words "Fight for Autism." The letters of the word "autism" are displayed inside puzzle pieces in a variety of colors. More than 130 T-shirts were printed and marketed to PVSD staff members and a few members of the community and Kasian's family. "On April 7, all the staff (members) in the school district were invited to wear the T-shirt or wear blue for Autism Awareness Month," explained Lefever. The effort raised more than $500 for a group that advocates for autism awareness.

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