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Schools mark World Autism Awareness Day

Schools mark World Autism Awareness Day

On World Autism Awareness Day, students across Colonial School District learned about autism and neurodivergence through a variety of different activities meant to encourage understanding and awareness.

Ridge Park Elementary School students had the opportunity to participate in a Sensory Walk, where they visited different stations to try activities. At each station, they were encouraged to think about what senses they were using and how the loss of a sense, like eyesight, might affect how they are able to complete the activity.

At one station, students were invited to close their eyes and search with their hands through sand to find magnetic letters. Using their fingers, they tried to identify the letter they found and then opened their eyes to place the letter on a tray to spell out a saying. At another station, students had to hold hands and try to keep a balloon aloft without breaking their circle. Students were also encouraged to use their sense of hearing to listen to the sound and rhythm of a drum and replicate it on their own drum.

Ridge Park’s occupational therapy, physical therapy, and special education teachers organize this event each year to help students understand how their peers with autism or other special needs might experience the world. Students also wore t-shirts that read “Why blend in when you can stand out?”

Over at Plymouth and Whitemarsh Elementary schools, students read the book, “All My Stripes,” which is about a zebra with autism who often feels different because of his autism. The zebra has an “autism” stripe, as well as stripes for “curiosity,” “honesty,” and “caring.” But he worries that his friends only see his “autism” stripe. He later comes to understand, with the help of his mother, that he should appreciate all his stripes, including the “autism” stripe that makes him who he is. 

Students were encouraged to wear stripes on April 2. At Whitemarsh, students participated in a walk to show their support for students with autism and to show their respect for unique qualities that every student has. At Plymouth, students enjoyed a dance party.

According to the United Nations website, World Autism Acceptance Day began in 2007 and was designated to occur annually on April 2. The awareness day was created to highlight the need and help improve the quality of life for those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives. April is also known as World Autism Month.

A student uses her sense of touch to identify an item hidden in a box.
PE students try to keep a balloon afloat without breaking their circle.
A PE student tries to keep a balloon from touching the ground by using his foot.
PE students try to get a ball to fall into a hole by working as a team to manipulate a sheet of fabric.
Students repeat the rhythm on drums.
A student closes his eyes to find a letter in the sand.
A student stands on one leg and tries to throw a bean bag through a hole.
students freeze in a pose during their dance party
WE students show off their stripes
Students show off their stripes at WE

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