Autism Awareness Donation: Beech Grove Intermediate School
Recently Royal United Mortgage LLC hosted an autism awareness drive. We put together shirts, created newsletters, and had several people in the office participate in one of our largest ever fundraisers for this type of event. It was a lot of work. Well, our work came to a close on Wednesday, April 19st. This was the day we donated all of the proceeds we had gathered, to Beech Grove Intermediate School.
“Every kid is just one caring adult away from success.” This is the tag line on Lindsey Hurford’s email. Lindsey, wife of our Training Manager Colby Hurford, is a Behavior Intervention Specialist at Beech Grove schools. In her role she knows all too well the importance of adults who give of their time, as well as the impact proper funding has on the children she works with daily.
Her students range in age but are those who fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Serving about 45 kids, Lindsey and other teachers in this tight knit school system focus on assimilating their students into the mainstream population. They teach their kids about self-regulation, enhancing their communication with others and life skill techniques that will assist them into adulthood.
Funding for these types of services don’t come cheap. Autism Speaks states that the costs associated with treatment for autism can be as high as $17,000 per child, per year. And while state programs are available, there is an 8 year wait list to receive assistance.
It’s for this reason that Lindsey, her team and her students, were so appreciative of the donations Royal United employees contributed as a result of our Autism awareness t-shirt drive. See the letter below from Lindsey, and the presentation video to get an idea of the impact you are making in the lives of children in our community.
Royal United Mortgage,
As I sit here, reflecting on how you’re helping “my kids” I’m in awe, with tears. In college, I went into the wrong room, and that’s how I became a special education teacher. That wrong location has steered me into the most rewarding direction. As a public educator, we don’t get to pick who comes into our doors, we only choose to help them the best we can, with whatever needs they come here with. I’ve spent countless dollars of my own trying to ensure their needs are met, as every educator does. So your donations have helped us help and reach more students that we serve.
Each school has made a “wish list” of how they would like to use the monetary donation. None of our schools currently have enough sensory items for each child with autism. One of our schools has asked to use the money to purchase more weighted vest, like our friend Catalina has on. We previously found someone who offered to make multiple ones, but we didn’t have the funds to purchase them….but now we DO J That’s all thanks to your gracious donations. Catalina calls this her “happy hugger” or her “farmer’s vest.” This weighted vest helps her calm down as the day begins, after transitions, and after difficult social situations. She’s currently in Kindergarten so she doesn’t have the capacity to calm herself down in those situations, so this “happy hugger” helps her body do that.
The young man in the picture is near and dear to my heart. I’ve known Jonah since he was three years old. Before going back to the schools, I was Jonah’s ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapist. When I first met Jonah, he had difficulty communicating wants and needs, in social situations, knowing how to play, toileting, etc. When he couldn’t convey his feelings, wants, or needs, he often hit or bit. When Jonah came to Kindergarten, Beech Grove was the only public school that would allow me to come with him, to assist him in his learning environment. In Kindergarten, he continued to struggle with communication, and he would often lash out to bite me. I bought him his first “chewie” like the one that is pictured with him. Instead of biting me, he was beginning to use his chewie for the same sensation. Jonah is now in third grade, and he’s integrated into school with his peers, WITHOUT an ABA therapist. Now, when I get to see him, in my new role, it’s to give him hugs and high fives.
I’m forever grateful that my husband, Colby, decided five years ago when we met that my passion was his passion, and that the company he was/is working for made it their passion. Every year, I look forward to the company picture, as it reminds me that we are indeed not in this alone, and that are wonderful people out there that help us, help our children here at school. The examples I shared are only a small portion of how your donations have positively and will continue to positively impact our student’s lives.
From the bottom of my heart – thank you,
Lindsey Hurford J