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Gold Ridge Elementary parent volunteers promote autism awareness

A group of parent volunteers at Gold Ridge Elementary held an Autism Awareness Day to promote awareness on campus and within the community in support of children who are autistic. 

Bea McCloud, mom of third-grader Doug McCloud, who is autistic, created multiple schoolwide activities in an effort create better understanding and acceptance of children who are autistic, educating students and staff at the school about the best ways to communicate and promote acceptance.

This is the third year McCloud has organized and put on the event with the help of other parent volunteers, many of whom also have students at Gold Ridge that are autistic. The month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. 

Students and teachers were invited into the multipurpose room to experience stations set up by the parents to explain the best ways to communicate with someone who is autistic. They also taught interactive lessons that explained why someone who is autistic acts a cetain way when it comes to their senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. 

An educational video about autism was also shown to students, parents visited classrooms to read to books to students about autism, and signs were posted all over campus with educational facts about autism. 

Elayne Gee is mom to twins Willie and Grace, both fourth graders at Gold Ridge Elementary. Her son Willie is on the autism spectrum and her daughter Grace is not. Both participated in the activities that day. 

When asked about what she wanted the community to know about autistic children Gee said, "We want them to be aware and tolerant. They are very smart kids, they want to participate, they want to communicate, just socially they don't always know how. It takes a little time, but they are great people once you get to know them."

Wllie's sister Grace said she thinks her fellow students learned a lot about what it is like to have autism and how it feels to be autistic. She said it is important for them to understand.