Athens, AL: Elementary school has 2 sensory rooms, 6 staff members for kids with autism

April 10, 2018, Athens (AL) News Courier: Athens-Limestone lights it up blue for autism The color blue is showing up all over Limestone County as officials, educators, residents and students bring attention to autism spectrum disorders throughout Autism Awareness Month, honored each year in April. … On Monday morning, Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks, Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough and Limestone County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk gathered at Johnson Elementary School to sign a proclamation officially declaring April as Autism Awareness Month in Athens and Limestone County. Students and teachers celebrated the signing by releasing blue balloons into an already clear-blue sky. Overwhelmed by the crowd, 4-year-old Sebastian Ikner reached for the mayor's hand instead of a balloon. Ikner is one of 19 students in the pre-K–5 autism unit at JES. “These kids are wonderful and so bright,” Marks said. … Equipped with two sensory rooms, two special education teachers and four teacher's aides, JES is set up with the goal of helping children with autism learn and thrive. … A critical part of the students' daily schedule is sensory room breaks. Sensory rooms contain special equipment used to soothe and address needs some children have to either calm down or expend energy pent up during a school day. Johnson added a new pre-K sensory room to their program at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Rubolin likened sensory room time to a coffee break. … The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 68 people are affected by some form of autism disorder, making it the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S.