TOWSON, Md. — Support.
It’s one word, but this one word can be the deciding factor in whether or not there is success or failure.
We all need it, so organizations that show support, just because, should be applauded…and supported.
Autism Speaks is one of those organizations.
This non-profit organization works to improve the lives of people living with autism and their families. They fundraise and advocate for those who, sometimes, cannot do those things for themselves. And to help further their reach, they team up with other organizations, companies, and schools.
The Arrow Center for Education Tangram is one of those schools.
The Arrow Center, which is located in Towson, is a year-round school that provides full-day special education and related services to autistic students, who are all between the ages of eight and 21 years old.
Jennifer Drucker, whose 19-year-old daughter, Cassie, has been at the school for three years, says the staff is very helpful and well informed.
“They all have such unique capabilities and disabilities, so the staff here is very well versed on each individual student’s capabilities.”
Cassie, who walks on her tiptoes, can't walk for long periods of time because it can lead to broken bones in her feet. According to Drucker, staff members do an amazing job of making sure that that doesn’t happen.
“Whenever there’s a trip planned through the school,” said Drucker. “They make sure that there’s gonna be a place for my daughter to sit down.”
Another parent, Anthony Myers, a father to identical 17-year-old boys, who also attend the school, adds that the staff is constantly working to get their children out into the community while helping them break barriers they didn’t think were possible.
He is amazed at the fact that the school taught his sons a new and effective way to communicate.
“Since my sons are non-verbal, they both use an electronic speech device,” said Myers. “And [they] have become proficient in using that to assist them in communicating their needs, wants, and desires to the outside world.”
Drucker chimed in and added that Cassie is now clearing tables at a bowling alley and vacuuming at a lacrosse store. She is also interacting with shoppers and other employees, which is a complete contrast to how she was before enrolling into The Arrow Center.
These accomplishments may seem small to some, but to these students, their parents, and their teachers, they’re monumental.
Principal Mark Rapaport mentioned that the point of this school is to familiarize its students with tasks that many people do on a daily basis.
“When they turn 21, I need my kids, when they leave here, to be able to do what all of us do,” said Rapaport. “It may look slightly different and the timing may be slightly different, but they’re going to their work, they’re making their bed, they’re putting their clothes away.”
It's these small accomplishments that paint a bigger picture and The Arrow School and Autism Speaks is doing their best to build these students up.
Autism Speaks hosts an annual event called the Autism Speaks Walk and it presents another way to support those who are living with autism.
For example, it helps the students in The Arrow School by encouraging them to explore their communities, which can sometimes be a challenge.
“Autism Speaks gives my kids the opportunity to go into the community and be a part of the community,” said Rapaport.
For those who want to show support, the Autism Speaks Walk is scheduled for October 6 at 11 a.m. in Towson and everyone is welcome to participate. There is no cost and all you have to do is sign up. and if you're interested in finding out more about The Arrow Center, click here.