Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders that impacts a person’s social interaction and communication. Autism spectrum disorder became an umbrella diagnosis in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5” (DSM-5) since 2013. Prior to that, a few conditions were considered separate, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and an unspecified form of pervasive developmental disorder.
Autism spectrum disorder has been a very common condition in the United States. According to CDC, about 1 in 59 children in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups have been identified with autism spectrum disorder.
Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3, or even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Early intervention is usually critical as it may produce positive outcomes later in life.
Woodmen of the World of Grenada does a hands on project in the community every three months. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been unable to do that. Member Sherry Felker came up with the idea of donating the money to help with the education of autistic and special needs children in the Grenada School District.
“We can’t thank local educators enough for the good they do in our community,” Chapter President Marcia Stark said. “Their impact is felt far beyond the school walls, and this donation, especially at such a challenging time, is one way we can show our appreciation.”
This gift is part of a broader initiative that challenged all active Woodmen of Life chapters to select a Title I school to support this month. With hundreds of active chapters from coast to coast, these contributions will touch countless families’ lives.
Last week, the Grenada Lower Elementary School received $500 for supplies for a Sensory Room. An additional $1,500 was given to the Grenada Upper Elementary School for the construction of a Sensory Pathwalk at the school.
“We appreciate WoodmanLife Chapter 15 – Grenada for their commitment to community and family,” Grenada Upper Elementary Principal Carol Tharpe said. “Their generous donation of $1,500 toward our dream of a Sensory Pathwalk will help make it a reality.”
A sensory path is a colorful, creative and playful way for children to build sensory pathways, connections in the brain that are responsible for sight, touch and sound, which enable children to complete complex, multi-stage tasks.
“WoodmenLife is greatly appreciated for recognizing the value in a Sensory Pathwalk for all students, especially our boys and girls with special needs.” Tharpe said. “Movement breaks and engagement in sensory activities throughout the day yield numerous benefits such as maintaining focus, increasing memory and providing an outlet for coping with everyday occurrences of information overload.”¬
Planning for the Sensory Pathwalk is under way. A date for the start of construction has yet to be determined.
Cole Surrell, principal of the K-3 elementary school, said the donation to help buy supplies will be put to good use.
“We are excited about the money given to us from WoodmenLife,” he said. “It will be used to update the material in the room. The Sensory Room is used by all children and has been a good addition to the school.”
Erin Boeni, special education teacher, is in charge of the room at Grenada Lower Elementary School. The Oxford native is the daughter of a special education teacher.
“All students can use the room and even check out materials to use in the classroom,” Boeni concluded. “These items help the students to calm down, which will allow them to focus more in class.”