CCS to participate in Autism Awareness Month

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Chilton County Schools are stepping up their promotion of the designation.

A resolution designating Chilton County Schools participation in Autism Awareness Month was signed by Board of Education President Lori Patterson and Superintendent Tommy Glasscock on April 3.

CCS Special Education director Michelle Coppedge said several schools will display facts about autism on bulletin boards to raise awareness. Some schools will also be sharing facts about autism during schoolwide morning announcements.

“The Autism Society of Alabama has dedicated this to be Autism Awareness Month and we wanted to follow suit with that as a board of education to bring awareness to the fact that we do have multiple students who have the diagnosis of autism and all that comes along with that,” Coppedge said. “It looks different in every child. It doesn’t always look the same.”

She said some of the common symptoms are social and language delays and sensory challenges.

According to Autism Speaks, an organization that focuses on awareness of autism spectrum disorder and helping those with autism find resources, “Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.”

April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day. Coppedge said this was the 11th year for the day to be observed.

“The spectrum … is pretty wide in terms of what autism might include,” Coppedge said.

Autism Speaks defines autism spectrum disorder as “a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.”

Boys are five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls are. In Chilton County Schools, 76 students have autism.

“It is the mission of every IEP (Individualized Educational Program) team to take the students, regardless of what their exceptionality is, see what their needs are and provide them services,” Coppedge said. “Typical services that a student with autism might receive would be occupational therapy services, speech language services, sometimes they need academic support.”

Coppedge said the services provided for each student are specifically tailored for the student to be successful academically.

Autism Awareness T-shirts were created for the special education faculty and staff to wear during the month.

“We feel like autism awareness is every day, just because that’s what we do every day, and our teachers are committed to that,” Coppedge said.

As far as she knows, this is the first time that the school system has signed an actual resolution recognizing the month.