World Autism Awareness Day & Resources for Autistic Children - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

World Autism Awareness Day & Resources for Autistic Children

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World Autism Awareness Day is Wednesday, April 2nd 2014 and local groups like the Second Start Newton Learning Center is using the day to teach people more about the seriousness of autism and the need for early intervention to help more children.

The extra push for help also comes after new statistics revealed one in 68 kids have autism. Kurt and Janis Lammers have been taking both their children, Kristina and Matthew to the Newton Learning Center for years. Both children are autistic.

Kurt told Channel 2 News that he and his wife have noticed a positive difference in their child's behavior after they started going to Newton. "This particular school is really good in helping them to establish routine and also understanding how they think because they think differently," said Lammers.

Channel 2 News tagged along during some of the autism workshops to get a better understanding of what autism is. RJ Larrieu is the director at the Newton Learning Center and opened the facility back in 2008. She says autism is complex and the behaviors of children can range depending on which part of the spectrum they are on. "It's a complex developmental disorder. Imagine not being able to communicate in a verbal world," said Larrieu.

Some kids have trouble expressing their needs and feelings to the people closest to them. At the workshops we found out more hands-on teaching helps the students learn and communicate better. Using a modified curriculum, for example using the words rock-brain, Glassman and mean Jean, students are able to improve their learning skills much more than in a regular classroom. "So what we do is we have our unthinkables such as Glassman. Well, if I drop a piece of glass it's going to shatter - well, that's the way we explain what a meltdown is," said Larrieu.

The goal is to prepare kids for real life scenarios using these new teaching techniques. Michelle Nichol moved all the way up from Las Vegas to get help for her son, Tyler. Since then she's seen major improvements. "In the 8 months that he's been at this school I think the IEP he was on could probably be rewritten now. I mean 75-80%, I see a huge change."

Yvette Hansen also saw change in her daughter Jessica, after she transitioned here from a larger public school classroom. "Her confidence level has risen so much," said Hansen.

The Newton Learning Center works with students from kindergarten through high school. They also have programs available for adults with autism. "They're capable of doing anything any other child can do. They just need a different approach," said Larrieu.

"It's very helpful to learn how to deal with kids with autism and adults as well. It helps make their transition, their every day better," said Lammers.

The goal is to prepare kids for real life scenarios using these new teaching techniques. So far the Newton Learning Center has helped over 150 local families.

Now they are getting ready to host a gala to help raise money to offset the cost for programs and increase autism awareness. The gala, New Beginnings, New Dreams, is scheduled for Saturday, April 26th at the Eldorado Convention Center. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and includes dinner, music, dancing, a photo booth and a live performance by the local band Mimic.

More information here:

Newton Learning Center Gala Benefiting Autism Awareness:

Information on Autism Intervention Programs and Classes:

Written by Chloe Beardsley

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