Theme for the Month: Autism awareness
On Friday, the first autism awareness event was held on Central Michigan University's campus. I am proud to report that Family Fun Night was a big success. It was a conjoined effort by my group, the pending chapter of the Central Michigan Autism Society of America and the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC).
The SCEC is a group of college students who will most likely work with special needs children in the future. It is likely that most of its members are special education or speech therapy/audiology students, but I am aware of some members that are majoring in regular or early education. Thank you SCEC. You are a wonderful group!
Back in November I wrote about a post about a Family Fun night that was hosted by the SCEC for families who have children with autism. I lamented that it was attended by only three families, but I was unaware that a limited number of families were invited in order to control the test run. That Friday evening in November was the first time that SCEC attempted to host such an event. Despite a "low" turnout, the evening was successful and everyone had fun.
Last Friday night, SCEC, hosted our families again for another fun and successful evening. This time invitations were given out freely with RSVPS requested. Fourteen children in eight families showed up and everyone seemed to have a good time.
The President and Vice President of our pending chapter of Central Michigan Autism Society of America requested that guards be posted at all the doors to make sure children did not wander from the room. The "security" personnel did come in handy as it was a much needed detail. The Kulhavi Hall classroom where Fun Night was held was one that could be divided into two rooms if needed. That meant there were at least three doors leading out to the residence hall corridor. Bathrooms were out in the hall, so if anyone had to go, parents were alerted by SCEC students.
One of the most popular activities for the kids on Friday was the large motor skill area that was set up. One or more of the students brought in three big exercise balls, which were constantly in use. There were enough volunteers to allow for an attendant per child or two, so parents were freed up to chat--which I had, personally had found in the past to be a rare occurrence during regular "play groups" dominated by the attendance of neuro-typical children.
Anyway, many of the same activities offered at the first Family Fun Night were offered again. For a better idea of what went on last Friday please read the excerpts below from my previous post.
Again, thank you SCEC. Your efforts were much appreciated.
Last night The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) at Central Michigan University (CMU) held their first game night for families who have a child or children with autism. About twenty students and their advisor were on hand to help children play games, make puppets out of paper bags, color, and just have a good time in general. The students were well organized, enthusiastic and very willing to help out with bathroom breaks and behavior difficulties. Game night was held in a large room in a student residence hall. There were plenty of tables for activities and also plenty of space to roam around.
[...] There were three to four helpers for every child and most of the boys loved being the center of attention of their own little groups. My oldest son (the one on the spectrum) soaked it all up. He sang his favorite song about froggys two different times to small groups of students gathered around him. He also made a frog puppet and decorated a life-sized version of himself after a student drew an outline around him.
My son did become overwhelmed with the amount of activity choices at one point and zoomed back and forth across the room a few times. But he was OK after a few minutes and settled down for the rest of the time. He even cried a little bit because he did not want to leave and insisted on coloring a picture as a last activity. The sympathetic student participants allowed him to do so even though it was time to clean up the room.
My youngest boy also had a great time and did similar activities. He really liked the crafts and playing the Junior Monopoly game with his brother for a short time. My husband and I were there, but we didn't have to do much other than chat with the other parents, the college students and their advisor.
The relationship between the parent group and the SCEC members is mutually beneficial. Parents get some enthusiastic help and the students get a chance to interact with our children with Autism Spectrum disorder. Further, the children on the spectrum will get extra opportunities to develop various sorts of skills(social, motor skills, etc.) Despite the low attendance, the event last night was successful because all participants seemed to enjoy the event. SCEC is hoping to hold more game nights in the future. Now all we have to do is figure out how to attract more families to this wonderful event.