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Autism workshop works with families
Autism affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and as many as one in every 110 children in the United Sates, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
During April’s Autism Awareness month, Pickerington Elementary School is bringing more awareness to the surrounding community with its special activities geared toward educating the students and parents of PES.
Autism is a unique disorder that affects people in different ways.
“Being ‘on the spectrum’ means that you have been medically diagnosed to have characteristics of Autism or another related disorder, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD-NOS or another disability that falls under this category.” special education teacher Christine Miller said. “It also means that there is a wide spectrum, if you will, of stereo-typical behaviors, characteristics and traits that people with Autism related disorders can display. Each person is unique in his or her needs and characteristics.”
PES is bringing awareness through a community event on April 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. entitled, “The Puzzle Starts with Me.”
This short presentation is scheduled for the school’s multi-purpose room for parents and community members to attend. General information about Autism and its related disorders will be shared, resources from the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence will be available and a representative from Autism Speaks will be in attendance to help answer questions. Free childcare will be available during the presentation.
In addition, the school will hold a voluntary professional development opportunity for staff and employees of Pickerington Local Schools. This professional development will focus on Autism in the classroom and share some helpful tips for educators. Teachers and staff will also learn details of the PES Autism Awareness day during this event.
Miller says educators must listen to their students and take time to get to know them and their learning style. Students on the Autism spectrum tend to need frequent reinforcement to encourage appropriate behavior and social interaction, as well as sensory breaks to meet their individual needs.
“In order for students to be successful, teachers need to understand, accept and encourage their students to build upon their individual strengths and to work hard to improve their areas of weakness,” Miller said.
On April 21, the students of PES will participate in an Autism Awareness Day. PES Counselor Ruth Tookes said the students are being asked to wear blue to show their support for the special day and to participate in the Autism walk during their school day.
Activities will educate children and enhance their awareness of what it is like to be a person with autism or another disability.
“The activities will seem like games, but instead are an active learning opportunity to support tolerance and acceptance of people’s differences,” Miller said.
Those interested in participating in the April 13 community event should contact Ruth Toopes, school counselor at PEC, at (614) 833-2115 to reserve a seat and register for childcare.
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