More than $4000 raised for Autism Awareness Month in Demopolis City Schools

U.S. Jones Principal Leon Clark (left) and DCS Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff sport blue bands for Autism Awareness Month. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

U.S. Jones Principal Leon Clark (left) and DCS Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff sport blue bands for Autism Awareness Month. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Blue bands could be seen decorating the wrists of many people in Demopolis in April.

The wrist bands were part of a month-long effort in Demopolis schools to educate students and their parents about autism – and raise money not only for the Autism Society of Alabama but for special needs students in school system.

The drive proved successful for a first attempt, said Kyle Kallhoff, superintendent. “People in Demopolis care about their children and their neighbors’ children.”

Some $4,500 was raised through the sale of the $2 blue bands, coin drives and other events on the four school campuses.

Of that $1,000 will be donated to the Autism Society. The remainder will be divided among the special needs self-contained classrooms for purchase of materials and supplies, Kallhoff said.

The effort to focus on the challenges of autism didn’t start until the end of March. The drive also was interrupted by the standardized testing in schools during the third week of April.

Kallhoff believes that “with more preparation and time,“ Autism Awareness Month will grow even more successful.

He explained that autism affects one in every 50 school children. Demopolis schools have 20 students who have been identified as autistic, and nine of them are in the self-contained classrooms.

Thanks to Trustmark Bank, Colony Office Products, Collins Communications and Marengo Insurance, Demopolis City Schools purchased 2,000 wristbands for sale. Half of the proceeds were to go to the society, and the remainder stay with the school system. Wrist bands still are available for purchase.

Autism covers a group of brain development disorders. Those who have been diagnosed have difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and exhibit repetitive behaviors.

It can be associated with difficulties in learning, coordination and attention and health issues, but some persons with the disorder excel in music, math and art.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that there has been a 10-fold increase in American children on the autism spectrum in the last 40 years, only partially explained by improved diagnosis and awareness.