During this time of national mourning for the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, we honor the children and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our hearts, prayers, tears, and hugs go out to all the parents, families, and friends of those who we have lost. The embraces we send them through our hearts say much more than the mere words jotted here.
We also wish to convey our understanding of anyone who may be frightened or upset—and now leery—about anyone who has Asperger’s syndrome or is someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. We offer training and classes to help neuro-typical people understand, in some small way, what it is like for our brothers and sisters on the autism spectrum.
We do not wish anyone to fear or put these children and young adults into one category because of the events of December … Read More »
Running to make a difference
5K run raises money for special needs scholarships
October 7, 2012
By Michelle Horst
Journal staff writer
SHENANDOAH JUNCTION - For children with special needs, Bonnie Zampino created a place for them to go, and now she is raising money to provide those children a way.
A Special Space opened in Charles Town on Aug. 22, and is a before-and after-school center for children all along the special needs spectrum. Zampino, the president and founder of the center, said that she has heard from many parents who are interested in her program, but are unable to attend due to financial constraints.
“I have been approached by moms who are homeschooling their special needs child, and they would love for their kids to be able to come to A Special Space for socialization, but cannot afford it,” Zampino said, adding that many parents … Read More »
Every year, I run races of various distances around the eastern part of the country. So far this year, I have run a 12-hour ultra-marathon in Charleston, SC in order to help raise awareness of Autism with permission of Autism Speaks.
My son Aidan has been directly affected by autism. Aidan struggles every day with a condition that has forever changed the fabric of his life. This cause has been near and dear to me since “Bugga” was diagnosed with autism 3 years ago. He is five now and doing great…thank God. I am so very blessed in every way that I thought I would take the insanity of running long distances and put it to good use.
I am going to run my next ultra-marathon in the beautiful mountains of the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. The race is the Qu’est-ce que c’est? Aux Montagnes! 12 Hour Run on Saturday, October 27, … Read More »
First Therapeutic Child Care Center Opens in Charles Town
Charles Town just opened a therapeutic child care called A Special Space, helping kids with special needs and their hard-working families.
By: Dana Chicklas
Updated: August 21, 2012
CHARLES TOWN, WV — Charles Town has opened A Special Space, a therapeutic child care center that helps kids with special needs and their hard-working families. It’s a special space for special kids, just like third grader Brendan Zampino.
“I really care about people,” says Brendan Zampino, a third grader.
“He’s amazing, I mean he’s my hero,” says Bonnie Zampino, the founder of A Special Day day care in Charles Town.
There was no day care around town made just right for kids with Autism until his mother, Bonnie, founded one herself.
“In order for success, you need to find a need and fill it and that’s what A Special Space … Read More »
Please bring a friend and the kids and join us on Tuesday, August 21st at Zion Episcopal Church Parish Hall located at: 221 E. Washington Street, Charles Town, WV 25414.
Our dedication and open house of A Special Space Center for school-aged children will be held from 10 am until noon. Food, tours and a chance to network with others in the community will make this a morning to remember! We are looking forward to seeing you there.
We are excited to be holding our first 5K/Fun Run event!
A Special Race for A Special Space will be held on October 6, 2012 at Sam Michael’s Park. Same-Day registration begins at 7:30 AM with the race starting at 9:00 AM.
The 1st annual Special Race for A Special Space 5k Run and Walk is designed to be an uplifting community event. The Run/Walk benefits children enrolled at A Special Space Centers located in Charles Town, WV.
We have established this event to contribute to and raise awareness of children with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs during National Disability Awareness Month.
Registration is now open on active.com here: http://www.active.com/running/shenandoah-junction-wv/a-special-race-for-a-special-space-2012.
Register now and help us raise awareness and support for our children!
Yesterday I was told by my employer that, upon learning that A Special Space Center was becoming a reality, they will terminate my employment on the day the center opens.
So at this time, it appears that my job will end on August 22nd.
This was a very personal and poignant reminder of why I started A Special Space.
Parents of special needs children have a very hard time holding a full-time job. Employers are not aware of and often not interested in the special challenges present in the lives of families with special children.
I have been the HR Professional at my company for 3 1/2 years. During my tenure, I have had my hours cut and been demoted solely due to my son’s autism and the mental and medical care he requires. My story is not unique.
A study, published in the March 19 … Read More »
A Special Space, Inc. is a non-profit therapeutic child care and development center for children with autism, other special needs, and their typically functioning peers. As the first childcare center to design and tailor an environment and program for children with developmental disabilities, the mission of A Special Space is to offer children on the Autism Spectrum and other special needs children the opportunity to participate in before and after school care and summer programs in an environment tailored to their special sensory, social, educational, communicative and recreational needs alongside typically functioning peer models.
We will be opening our doors on August 22, 2012 at Zion Episcopal Church in Charles Town, WV for school-aged children, ages 5 through 12, for before/after school care, school closures and summer programs.
We are in great need of classroom items for A Special Space Center. … Read More »
We are happy to announce our grant supporters!
CVS Caremark supported A Special Space by providing a Community Grant in the amount of $1,000.00. Faith Weiner, the Sr. Director, Community Relations, wrote:
We wish you all the best in the year to come and hope that our level of support and commitment will enable your organization to achieve the goals you have defined.
A Special Space thanks CVS Caremark for their support for the mission of A Special Space and the community we serve! Because of their support, we will be able to purchase technology and learning software to help our children learn and develop social and motor skills.
To learn more about CVS Caremark and their grant programs, visit them at their web site: http://info.cvscaremark.com/community/our-impact/community-grants.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation has graciously bestowed a $5,000 grant to A Special Space from their Berkeley County … Read More »
Today we had the honor of facilitating Experience Autism for a middle school class in West Virginia.
My “Ah Ha!” moment happened at the very beginning of class.
I asked, “Who has heard the word ‘autism’?” Every hand went up.
I asked, “Who knows someone with autism?” Every hand went up.
I asked, “Who can tell me what autism is?” Not one hand went up.
Today we didn’t “raise awareness” about autism. Clearly even 7th graders are aware of it.
No. Today we helped one class understand autism. There is a big difference between the two.
By going through the activities in the experience, these kids were able to actually encounter some of the challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum. They dealt with tactile issues. They learned what it was like to need a picture to complete a task when words simply made no sense. They struggled … Read More »
Advocacy isn’t the main purpose of A Special Space. Education for both NTs and those with ASDs is our focus. But after reading one too many stories today about bullying and abuse of special needs children by teachers, advocacy and education have combined.
It’s time to educate my state and the nation about the importance of giving a voice to those who have none. It’s time to advocate for cameras in the classrooms.
Teachers are an amazing gift to our children. They work hard, love our kids, and guide them on their journey in life—most of them. The few that make the news are the ones who are burnt out, stressed out, under-educated, under-supported and have no business in the classroom. They, the few, are hurting our children and giving other teachers a bad name.
For the protection of our children and the teachers, it’s … Read More »
This is our second video to help educate those of us who are neuro-typical to understand what those who have autism experience. We believe it is important to “taste” what the children deal with in order to help them cope.
In a sensory overload experience, too many variables cause them to go through a progression of intensifying visual and auditory distortions that lead to an eventual “melt-down.” Their brain cannot handle the load of stimuli and essentially short-circuits, trapping the person in a frightening world of noise and visions over which they have no control. This is why a child with autism will flap their hands, hit their head against a wall, or do other repetitive gestures in an effort to maintain a grip on reality and an attempt to make it all stop.
For more information on an educational class, please … Read More »
How many of you are aware of Autism Speak’s “Light It Up Blue” initiative?
According to their site, this April 2nd, for World Autism Day, businesses, buildings and front porches are supposed to change their white lightbulbs to blue.
I think it’s a cool concept—don’t get me wrong. But how does this raise awareness or anything else for autism? I’m thinking that the CDC’s announcement yesterday that the rates of autism are now 1 in 88 children and the news coverage of this national epidemic raise much more awareness of the spectrum and early diagnosis/early intervention than some downtown buildings having blue lights.
So go ahead and Light It Up Blue . . . but sharing data, facts, symptoms, treatments and support will last a lot longer, go a lot further, and enlighten people much longer than just a day of blue lightbulbs.
We take normalcy for granted. Millions of bits of data and sensory input surround us every minute; yet, we instinctively know how to filter and focus without thinking about it, much like we do not think to make hearts beat or eyes blink.
People born with Autism do not process their surroundings as most do; it is physically (mechanically, chemically) impossible for them to do so. Over time, adults have learned how deal with the overwhelming episodes, but have historically had to do so on their own. To help children who happen to have autism, we need to understand what they experience. Understanding breeds compassion.
This video is just a taste of what happens when a person on the autism spectrum becomes overstimulated and overwhelmed with sensory overload. Lights, noise, crowds, clutter, texture, and changes in their routine can trigger these episodic … Read More »
For a few weeks now I have been working on developing “Experience Autism”. I want to create a training module to simulate, as much as possible, the autism experience to take into the schools. By sharing the sensory disorder and fine motor issues and visual distortions experienced by people on the spectrum with teachers and fellow students, I hope to bring not only awareness, but also understanding and therefore acceptance and compassion.
My amazing friend and partner in this, John Catlin (www.johnccatlin.com), worked with me on this. We read many first person accounts from those on the spectrum who have taken the time to try to explain to us neuro-typicals what it feels like to experience sensory overload. We watched numerous videos created to share the experience.
Based on what we read, John created a short video showing the difference between what neuro-typical … Read More »
Things educators should know about what the parents, not just the child, need.
1) I’m sorry.
I will be saying this to many of you many, many times over the next 10 years. I will say this to you probably weekly, if not more. And I really am. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry because I am the reason you have my child in your class. I fought for him to be mainstreamed because all of the doctors and specialists told me that being in the least restrictive environment among peer models would be best for my son’s development.
I’m sorry because I know that you aren’t trained for this.
I’m sorry because I know you’ll have 25 kids in your class, all with different academic and social and behavioral abilities and you’re going to have to pay special attention to my son.
I’m sorry because you are … Read More »
was broadcast on Sunday, March 11, 2012
Did you miss it? You can listen to it here!
Bonnie was interviewed on “Women of Vision” with Lori Brooks on 97.1 WASH-FM on Sunday, March 11, 2012. Click this link to hear the whole thing:
Radio Interview, WASH-FM 97.1, Sunday, March 11, 2012
Bonnie is going to be interviewed on “Women of Vision” with Lori Brooks this coming Sunday morning at 7:30 on 97.1 WASH-FM.
You can also listen online by clicking the Listen Live button in the top left corner on their site.
Go there now to tune in:
Click here to bring up the PDF. Download it, print it out, and bring it with you.
See you at one of the three restaurants listed on the flyer on
Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 5:30 PM!