WYNNEFIELD, PA - As you may know, April is autism awareness month, and parents of children on the spectrum are raising awareness and money for Philadelphia schools.
At Samuel Samuel Gompers Elementary School in Wynnefield, they do not have a dedicated sensory room, which can autistic students relax when anxious. So that’s why Ginny McGill and her husband Timothy are hosting a benefit on 4/28 to raise funds for the sensory classroom at their son’s school.
“Sometimes the general classrooms can be overwhelming,” explained Ginny. She says her 5-year-old son, Aiden, can sometimes have trouble sitting still in class.
After being diagnosed with autism when he was three, Ginny says it was tough on her young family. “We struggle with it. I know I did for a little bit, but after about, probably about a month or two, I really said, ‘I have got to get working. I can’t sit here crying anymore!’”
So Ginny and her husband took action. They formed the non-profit…The “A” Team, Inc. to raise awareness and funds for more sensory classrooms in the Philadelphia School District. “The noises, the lights, the children, the colors…It can really just be overwhelming to a child with sensory needs. So, a sensory room kind of allows them to decompress and then they can refocus and kind of come back into the classroom,” said Ginny.
The principal of Samuel Gompers Elementary School, Phillip Deluca, says he knows first-hand how much this kind of classroom could help students. Deluca says his 10-year-old son also has autism. Deluca told PHL17, “I think once people see what it is and how it works, and how it can be effective for children, it would be something that we would want to see in all schools.”
Officials with the Philadelphia School District say state, local and federal dollars currently help service over 2,500 students identified with autism support needs in the district, in over 300 classrooms. Officials say the office of specialized services works to provide sensory classrooms and areas to students based on individual needs and are currently exploring additional funding streams to further support autism support programs.
So for now, Ginny, her husband, and staff at Samuel Gompers will work together to get Aiden’s special needs satisfied in his school through whatever means necessary.