Students walk to raise Autism awareness

<p class="p1">Students at J.D. Clifton Elementary participate in the school’s first Autism Walk on Monday. The 2018-2019 school year is the first time Clifton has had an autism specific classroom.</p>MarlisaHardingEducation Reporter

<p class="p1">J.D. Clifton Elementary School held its first Autism Walk on Monday.  The event, in conjunction with Autism Awareness month, included a campus-wide march with autistic students and their teachers leading the charge.  

<p class="p1">Family and friends were present as the students helped facilitate a school assembly celebrating its unique population impacted by autism. Caleb Hardy, an autistic student, welcomed the crowd inviting them to “Sit back and relax.” 

<p class="p1">At the conclusion of the rally, Jennifer Pete, Calcasieu Parish School Board department head of Speech and Assistive Technology, shared data and information about signs and prevalence of autism.  

<p class="p1">The 2018-2019 school year is the first time Clifton has had an autism-specific classroom.

<p class="p1">Assistant Principal Nancy Frank said CPSB sends students from out of zone to the school specifically because of the autism classroom. This way, explained Frank, students are not isolated in their home school; rather, they can make friends and relationship with several peers and teachers dedicated to their services.

<p class="p1"><span class="s1">Denise Turner, Clifton autism teacher, said it is important to recognize that students diagnosed with autism are in many ways “like any other child.”  She explained that early diagnosis is key in student success and that, naturally, one must learn how to best interact with a child with autism. In addition to teachers trained in autism education and the availability of specialized services like speech and adapted physical education, Clifton autism students are able to interact with their mainstreamed peers through library and music classes.</span>

<p class="p1">Frank applauded the Clifton autism teachers saying, being a teacher certainly isn’t easy but it takes a special, dedicated professional to successfully facilitate an autism classroom.