Bringing out the best in students takes a team
Autism Awareness Month celebrated
By DAMIAN SEBOUHIAN
“I love my job,” said Maureen Bialaszewski, special education teacher at the BOCES LoGuidice Center in Fredonia. “I’ve been teaching for 37 years, and every day is different. You go home exhausted, but you go home feeling good.”
Bialaszewski spearheaded this year’s “Showcase of Autism Awareness” held recently. April is Autism Awareness Month, and the event was held as a celebration for the students who invited families, community members and various others to participate and “play” in an autistic world.
Activities included decorating cookies, playing with homemade sensory toys, arts and crafts, and going through an obstacle course set up in the courtyard.
The event was capped off with a parade through the halls of the facility.
Parents were given bags filled with sensory toys, stress balls, bookmarks and autism identification bracelets, and t-shirts were sold.
Sensory toys are beneficial for kids with autism because they “calm the kids down,” Bialaszewski said. “Our kids don’t have tantrums, they have meltdowns. They might be in public and they might have a meltdown. People think they’re having a tantrum, but it’s a meltdown.”
The bracelets are invaluable “because a lot of our kids are wanderers,” said Bialaszewski. If you see a child with a bracelet who has wandered off, “all you do is call the sheriff right away. It’s almost like a GPS; it’s so important for our kids.”
Aaron Delcamp said that his biggest priority as a teacher is to “keep as much routine as you can and keep the kids comfortable. Each kid has individual needs and talents.”
Delcamp said teaching at LoGuidice is “a lot of fun. Seeing the progress is the best part of my job.” Delcamp pointed out one of his students who said hello to this reporter and smiled.
“When he first came into this building, he never talked,” Delcamp said.
Organizations that participated in the Autism Awareness showcase included the Resource Center, Fredonia Fire Department, Dunkirk Police, the Sheriff’s Department and the Derby Gym.