Local mother starts autism summer school

WILMINGTON -- A local mother of two autistic boys has turned the challenges of her situation into a blessing for many other families. She was able to single-handedly start a summer school for autistic children. Judy Clark started the summer school 10 years ago to help her own autistic boys. Clark said, "They weren't invited to sleep-overs like regular kids, they didn't get involved in T-ball and other activities, so I knew there need to be a place for kids with autism to go." She began the program in her garage as it grew, it moved to Alderman Elementary. It's now called the Autism Spectrum Alternative Program Summer School. Robin Ange's child attends ASAP school. She said, "I just love it because it gives him structure and it's a continuation of what he's learning in school. It's not just like a baby sitting service." Clark said, "They do academic skills, social skills, self help skills… Those are the three things that we look at." Every day the students spend time in the sensory room where they get to exercise, work on their social skills and get some tactile stimulation. But it's not just about having a good time. Jared Simpson attends ASAP School. He said, "Yeah, I learn a lot." The kids work on reading, writing and arithmetic. This won't be the last summer school for Jared. He'll be back as long as the funding is there. Clark said, "One of our primary donors has decided that this year they were not going to be able to help support us. I found that out this morning. We'll make it though." Clark's dedication, drive and desire will see the program through. She said, "The love I think that all of us as a group is just tremendous and that's what motivated me to start this program because I love people with autism they're my passion." Judy says she's willing to pay money out of her own pocket to make sure the program is around next year. There is no charge to attend the summer school. The program is funded by donations and fundraisers. For more information on the autism spectrum alternative program summer school call ASAP Cares at (910) 270-5499 or visit www.asapcares.com.

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Good for you and those supporting the idea of a summer program for autistic. I am a teacher and have taught autistic in public school. I believe autistic are very special people and possibly the least understood of all. We do not need to make them "normal" but provide more opportunities for them to be succesful in society. I have felt that the school transition plan could be improved for all and especially ASD students. Your program is a great leap in this direction. Exposure to the unstructured summer days at home often requires teachers of these students to review and work hard to get them back on the regimented track again in the fall. This program is excellent. Floyd Mattoon