LMU-OTD Student Uses Pizza Night to Connect with Autistic Children and their Families

Pizza Night

Elizabeth Vaughn, a student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU-OTD), mentored by Dr. Deborah Zeitlin, assistant professor of occupational therapy, collaborated with the Knox County Autism Foundation in Knox County, Kentucky, and Union Commonwealth University (UCU) in Barbourville, Kentucky, to organize a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Pizza Night held on March 14 at UCU.  

Vaughn earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from UCU in 2021. During her time at LMU, Vaughn worked on her doctoral capstone project during her current and last semester at LMU. This project aimed at providing educational resources and fostering community engagement for children with autism and their families. Additionally, she serves as a board member with the Knox County Autism Foundation. 

During the DIY Pizza Night, children made their own pizzas from start to finish, beginning with rolling out the fresh dough to placing the pizzas in an oven to bake. They were accompanied by their families and others to accomplish their delicious meals.

Elizabeth's capstone project evolved into a series of educational events designed to empower families with autistic children, offering both knowledge and community involvement opportunities. These events were meticulously evaluated for their impact on participants' understanding and their willingness to participate in future community endeavors. 

Vaughn crafted a plan to ensure the continuity of these vital community initiatives. Partnering with the autism foundation, Elizabeth envisions a future where these events become integral to the support network for families affected by autism in Knox County.  

You can read more about the pizza night at UCU here: https://bit.ly/3vBtPzK 

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or email at admissions@LMUnet.edu.   

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