Autism Ambassador Aaron Likens Returns to SUNY Canton, Oct. 13


Aaron Likens was first diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 20 following a childhood filled with inexplicable behaviors. Now, Likens presents across the country so that others can decode and understand autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The nationally recognized “Autism Ambassador” will hold three presentations at noon, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 in the SUNY Canton Richard W. Miller Campus Center’s Kingston Theater. All three sessions are free and open to the public. Guests will need to adhere to the college’s COVID-19 protocols and wear masks inside college buildings.

Aaron Likens presents in the Kingston Theater.
Autism Ambassador – Author and presenter Aaron Likens will speak at SUNY Canton during three sessions held Wednesday, Oct. 13, in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center’s Kingston Theater. Likens emphasizes celebrating rather than separating people with autism spectrum disorders.

There has been a growing demand for public education about autism. Likens has become one of the most preeminent speakers on the issue and its impact on education, law enforcement, employment and medical care. He authored the book “Finding Kansas,” about living and finding peace with this form of autism and emphasizes the need to find ways to “celebrate, not separate” those with ASD and other disabilities.

“It’s crucial for police officers to understand how autistic individuals behave or react,” said SUNY Canton Chief of University Police Alan P. Mulkin, who began inviting Likens to campus several years ago to present to the David Sullivan-St. Lawrence County Law Enforcement Academy. “Beyond police and emergency personnel, we can all learn more about spectrum disorders.”

Likens discusses growing up with undiagnosed ASD, including his obsessions with the weather and automotive racing. He recalls seemingly inexplicable outbursts at menu changes during family dinners and how his reactions have affected his personal relationships.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 59 American schoolchildren is on the autism spectrum. Almost half of children identified with ASD has average to above-average intellectual ability. Autistic adults make up a large and extremely diverse minority population.

One of the common problems for autistic people is sensory overload, according to Likens. “We in the spectrum pick up every sound, every smell, confusing lights,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to filter that stuff out.”

Likens’ presentations are sponsored by the Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership Office and the division of Academic Affairs as a part of the college’s diversity programming.

About SUNY Canton

Discover SUNY Canton, where innovation meets opportunity. The college’s career-focused educational programs emphasize hands-on and applied learning opportunities in digital design, engineering technology, health, information technology, management, public service, and veterinary technology. Faculty members bring real-world experience and exceptional academic expertise to the classroom. As a leader in online education, SUNY Canton offers unmatched flexibility with hundreds of courses and 23 comprehensive degree programs offered completely online. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos compete at the NCAA Division III level and will be transitioning to the SUNYAC in Fall 2024. In addition to its 15 traditional teams, SUNY Canton offers coed varsity esports and cheerleading.