Easter Seals launches contest to raise autism awareness

Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin recently joined its national organization in launching its Sketch-A-Space campaign to raise autism awareness. The campaign is supported by Google Sketchup, a 3-D modeling software, that will allow people with or without autism an opportunity to design their ideal, dream space.
The winner of the competition will receive $2,000 to make their space a reality.
“We hope it will encourage development of design solutions to address the unique needs of people living with autism and provide an avenue for creative expression,” Tom Wyman, manager of business development at Google, said.
Google SketchUp was originally developed for users to design and communicate in 3-D. After its introduction, Google learned its free software was very popular among people with autism, many of whom are visually and spatially gifted and especially adept at creating 3-D models.
According to Patricia Wright, national director of autism services at Easter Seals, a person living with autism can find physical room distractions almost debilitating.
“When it comes to living with autism, a person’s physical space and environment can be particularly important. Many individuals with autism report increased sensitivity to sounds, smells, tactile and their visual stimuli – unique needs that need to be addressed,”  Wright said.
Google SketchUp was originally developed for users to design and communicate in 3-D. “Joining up with Google SketchUp for this contest makes perfect sense,” Wright said. “Not only is it a wonderful tool for individuals with autism to express themselves, it’s a great way for entrants to share their creative ideas for what makes a comfortable and safe space, whether it be a bedroom, family room, classroom or office.”
Entries can be submitted at www.easterseals.com/sketchaspace between April 26, 2010 and July 16, 2010. Winners will be announced in early Fall 2010.

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