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Iowa City, IA: Support group provides 'Calm Kits' for autistic students; promotes 'acceptance'

Feb 28, 2019, The Daily Iowan: Iowa City Autism Community distributing ‘Calm Kits’ to high-need elementary schools Dina Bishara and Jessie Witherell have experienced the adage that no one knows a child’s needs better than a mother. Knowing this, the two founded the Iowa City Autism Community more than four years ago to support children with autism…. Today, the group works on providing Calm Kits and weighted lap blankets for autistic children in local elementary schools, Bishara said. “We do a lot of advocacy in the community for neurodivergent students and individuals,” Bishara said. “One of the missions of the Iowa City Autism Community is to create a more inclusive and accepting community, including in our schools.” … Each kit is complete with various items targeting sensory areas. There are tactile toys, mindfulness cards, visual sensory devices, noise-dampening headphones, and breathing exercise and mood identification papers, Bishara said. The kits cost $60 each to assemble, so resources are limited, she said. … There will be a volunteer event this weekend at the Coralville Public Library to sew weighted lap blankets and assemble the Calm Kits. The Autism Community’s goal is to sew as many weighted lap blankets as possible to distribute to more schools in need, Bishara said. … “We are mostly about promoting acceptance and inclusion. We are not working towards getting a cure or promoting medical research, we just want to create a place that’s very positive,” Witherell said.


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