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Raising her Voice to Raise Autism Awareness

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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Written by Alice Lin

On Saturday March 22, Chantale Pomerleau received the College of Social & Applied Human Sciences Student Alliance (CSAHS-SA) Excellence Leadership Award at the first annual year of the CSAHS-SA Gala. She was given this award for her extensive involvement on campus as a student leader, and for her consistent outstanding academic achievements at the University of Guelph.

Pomerleau is currently in her third year, pursuing a degree in Psychology at the University of Guelph, as well as a minor in Family and Child Studies. She has two younger twin brothers whom are now 13 years old, and were both diagnosed when they were three years of age.

“It was a life experience that definitely opened my eyes to a world far beyond my years” Pomerleau shared about her experience growing up with her brothers. As the big sister, she often had a ‘mini-mom’ mindset though…“it was difficult to understand [when] I was younger,” she said, “and it was difficult to see why common occurrences like singing happy birthday or going down the aisles of a grocery store would cause them to have an emotional breakdown”. Pomerleau shared that all of these seemingly common events, were actually over-stimulating for her brothers.

According to statistics, autism affects 1 in 88 children. “I know that it can be extremely tough for families to get their voice out and to seek resources to support them and their children,” said Pomerleau, “[but] we have made massive strides with my brothers because of organizations like Autism Canada Foundation”.

On April 2nd, the international world Autism Awareness Day, Pomerleau will be releasing her single “Speechless” where all the proceeds will be donated to the Autism Canada Foundation.

“I wrote the song last April on the spur of the moment” said Pomerlau. She chose to title the song “Speechless” to literally and figuratively represent the struggles that are both evident in autism. “Autism is known as the disorder where children struggle with social communication,” she said, “first, you’re speechless receiving the news and diagnosis. Second, you’re speechless at the support given from your family, friends and community. Lastly, you’re speechless looking back on your progress”.

Not only does her song provide an overarching message of hope for autism, it is also for others going through a difficult time in their life.

Pomerleau has worked extensively with the University’s Peer Helper Program, the Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) department at Guelph, Project Serve, and is a regular blogger for the “Leadership Office”, where she shares ideas and tips regarding leaders and leadership at the University of Guelph. She believes that leadership is a process that views initiators and supports as equally important roles and one through which people can learn to act in both positions.

“I want to share that knowledge, experience, and hope with other families so that they too, can find a path that works for them and can get their child to reach their full potential” said Pomerleau, “thanks for all the research and support that is out there now, my twin brothers are able to handle these situations and are very social in school. They are achieving grades at or above their peers without an educational assistant”.

The song will be available on www.bandcamp.com. To find out more and support this cause, visit: https://www.facebook.com/chantalepomerleaumusic

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