The Puzzle Piece Society is a new student organization that invites Ohio University students who are on the autism spectrum to experience a sense of community and have an opportunity to socialize with new people.
As of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in 54 children born in the United States were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For new OU students who are on the autism spectrum, it can feel daunting to come to campus and be in a brand new environment.
Adam Cahoon, a junior studying economics and entrepreneurship, is the founder and current president of The Puzzle Piece Society. Cahoon is looking forward to accepting new members and raising awareness about ASD at OU.
“Essentially, The Puzzle Piece Society, its mission is to promote advocacy, awareness, as well as give a sense of community and belonging to those on the spectrum,” Cahoon said. “Though we are also open to those who consider themselves allies.”
Cahoon also gave a background on how the organization came to fruition and noted how the university needed another student organization that represented students on the spectrum like himself.
“I had this idea for an organization since I first came on to OU,” Cahoon said. “I found that through my life that people might actually have strong connections with those on the spectrum … and I want to share that kind of bond with everybody else who's also on the spectrum at OU. If you're on the spectrum, I heavily encourage you to join us. You are more than welcome.”
Destiny Russell, a graduate student studying early childhood education, is on the recruitment and social media chair of The Puzzle Piece Society. Russell was looking forward to gaining more members via social media like Facebook and Instagram.
“I am actually the social media (chair) in the same realm as recruitment,” Russell said. “Mostly (handling) just the social media posts, but from my posts I'm trying to get more people to join. That's what I've been doing trying to get our presence known mostly through social platforms.”
Russell also added that the organization is working to build a sense of community with new members and that with COVID-19 still looming, there are virtual options available for members.
“As we're just starting, I think … we're working on building community,” Russell said. “Right now, we have our meetings in person as well as offered virtually just because of people's comfortability levels, not only with COVID concerns, but also for people being involved out there on the spectrum that may not want to socialize exactly in person.”
Eliza Stoner, a sophomore studying psychology and sociology criminology, is the current secretary for The Puzzle Piece Society and works with Cahoon to keep track of the itinerary while the organization is still in the process of growing.
“I'm the secretary, so I basically just keep track of the meetings, like attendance stuff — just basic things,” Stoner said. “The club is still becoming founded and everything, so we're still working on everything. We all come up with ideas of things that we can do. We have tabling event ideas; we have parties.”
Stoner also added that the organization meets every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Morton Hall. Students interested in joining can sign up via Bobcat Connect.