Penn Speaks for Autism (PSFA) is a student-run organization at the University of Pennsylvania. It has been in existence since September 2009 and is currently recognized by Student Activities Council (SAC) and Civic House Associates Coalition (CHAC). The purpose of this organization is to provide support for individuals with autism and to increase awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at the University of Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia.
PSFA provides volunteer opportunities for students at the University of Pennsylvania. Since Fall 2012, PSFA has run an after school autism support program three times a week at Henry C. Lea School in West Philadelphia. Additionally, PSFA hosts monthly themed workshops for children with autism and their families and starting this past Fall, organizes meet-ups for young adults with autism and students at Penn. In the Spring, volunteers participate in our weekly YouToo Tennis Program and teach children with autism the basics of tennis.
In addition to our programming, PSFA strives to spread awareness about autism at Penn and in the greater Philadelphia. We have brought speakers each semester to Penn’s campus, such as Dr. David Mandell to discuss his policy research, Sonja Kerr to discuss the law surrounding special education, and several other important figures in the field. While we are not affiliated with any outside organizations, we regularly attend the Walk Now for Autism Speaks, the Autism Awareness Day at the Philadelphia Zoo and other awareness events in Philadelphia. We have also collaborated with Art for Autism this past year, and art produced at our workshops/after school program is currently being exhibited by this organization in Indonesia.
Through its consistent planning and programming, PSFA has grown to be a regular resource for the Philadelphia autism community.