BELLAIRE - The Parents for Autism Community Education (PACE) has put together care packets to promote autism awareness and education in the Ohio Valley. Packets are still available for free to anyone who wants them.
Founded in 2009, PACE does a plethora of things to promote autism awareness an education throughout the Ohio Valley. For example, the organization has sponsored a 5K run/walk every year since their founding. The Awesome Autism 5K run/walk for this year is scheduled for August 30, which is the Saturday before Labor Day.
The PACE care packets have been put together by the organizations founders, Mary Jo and Dennis Delbert, whose son was diagnosed with autism in the 1990s.
T-L Photo / JESSE?SCOTT
SHOWN ARE the contents of one of the PACE care packets designed to promote awareness and education about autism. The packets contain books, information, and various trinkets. Packets can be obtained free of charge by contacting Mary Jo and Dennis Delbert of Bellaire.
"We wanted to provide a packet for families with newly diagnosed children with autism so that they would have some information to go by, to start with," said Mary Jo Delbert.
The care packets contain a lot of useful information, including a list of local places parents can go for diagnoses if they suspect their child has autism. The care packets also contain information about the disorder, a list of local support groups of other parents who have children with autism, a list of the special education coordinators at local school districts, and a list of agencies in local counties who might be able to help parents and provide more information.
Delbert explained that they want parents who have autistic children to know that they are not alone, that there are people in the area who can help them and answer their questions.
In addition to information and places to contact, the care packets also contain two books - one is a children's book entitled "A is for Autism, F is for Friend", which simplifies some of the idiosyncrasies of the disorder and makes it easier for both parents and children to understand why a child with autism might behave in certain ways. The other book is entitled "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome", which identifies characteristics of Asperger syndrome (a form of autism) with felines. It's sort of a tongue-in-cheek book and meant to provide some comic relief to parents and guardians.
"My husband and I found that when you're working with a child with autism, it can be pretty intense at times," Delbert said, explaining that the book helps parents to realized that things are not as bad as they sometimes seem, that their children are unique and that the characteristics of their children are perfectly okay.
Many autistic children, as Delbert explained, tend to reject things of certain smells and textures and colors which they find unappealing - such as certain foods or clothing. For this reason, the packets also contain various trinkets of different pleasing textures and colors. Delbert explained that many children with autism likewise tend to identify with certain objects that have a certain feel or smell - objects that, for whatever reason, stimulate the children's senses in a way that they enjoy and give them a sense of familiarity when they hold the objects.
"We tried to keep (the packets) simple because we didn't want parents to be overwhelmed with information. We tried to see what we thought would be very basic and simple and, hopefully, helpful to them," Delbert said.
"The smallest thing sometimes can make a world of difference," she said. "We firmly believe that with education and awareness comes acceptance and help, and that will hopefully lead to a better quality of life for people with autism or any other disability."
Anyone interested in obtaining care packets can stop by The Runner's Connection, 318 33rd St. in Bellaire. Additionally, you can call (740) 676-5264 or send an email to email@example.com. The packets are available to anyone free of charge.
Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.