‘They’re doing the best they can:’ Local teachers send message of kindness during Autism Awareness Month

Education 21st Century

SILVER LAKE (KSNT) – April is Autism Awareness Month, but for some families, the disorder isn’t recognized just one month out of the year.

Instead it’s a daily challenge filled with ups and downs.

Marie Kalas is a mom of two students who both fall on the spectrum for autism.

“There are times that he might bump into somebody and I always apologize, but he’s not doing it on purpose,” said Kalas, a paraprofessional at Silver Lake High School.

The disorder can cause social and emotional difficulties, as well as intellectual disabilities.

Her son Bryce has low functioning autism and just recently, he’s been able to use words to express himself with the help of a speech app.

“It has been wonderful to see him grow, to see him become more than what we ever thought he could be,” Kalas said. “Being able to hear that word the same way every time has allowed him to be able to verbalize it himself.”

The special education program at Silver Lake High is modified to each students’ needs in a similar way.

Kalas started The Shirt Shop seven years ago. Through the program, they’re able to buy advanced technology to help their students continue to express themselves the best they can.

The t-shirts are designed by other students at Silver Lake High and raise money for technology like the Osmo, which is one of the educational and fun ways they keep students like Bryce engaged.

“It works with an iPad and it sees what you place on the table through a mirror,” Kalas said.

Kalas said even a task that seems as simple as going to the grocery store can be overwhelming for those with autism and hopes that during Autism Awareness Month and beyond, people will be less judgemental and more understanding.

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