Impressed At The Autism Awareness Event

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Having been a special education teacher in Hamilton County for a number of years, I must say that it was a heartwarming experience to attend the Autism Awareness event that was held the morning of Wednesday, April 2, at Miller Plaza, and listen to the stories of many of the parents who have children with autism, or whose children fall somewhere within the autism spectrum, which can be a very broad spectrum of abilities and disabilities.  The news lately has been filled with statistics about the increase in autism, especially in the male population. The numbers are staggering and disturbing. We still do not know exactly what causes autism, although there have been several hypotheses, but experts in the field have certainly gotten a lot closer to being able to assess and prescribe suitable programs for these children.  

The range of autistic children’s abilities is mind boggling. Some of these children have achieved phenomenal feats, especially in music and rote memory such as counting, computation, reading; the list goes on. Today at the event,  I was especially touched by a young man who began to play a song on the keyboard which he performed flawlessly and effortlessly.  Upon hearing his name, tears welled up in my eyes, for it was then that I recognized him as being one of my 12 students that was in my CDC classroom in the old East Lake Middle School where I taught from 1991-1996.  I walked up to him and asked him if he knew who I was. Mind you-he’s 36 years old now.  In his familiar, monotone voice, and with a big smile on his face, he said my name.  Now he may have seen my I.D. badge, but I’d venture to guess that he would have remembered me without it.  This is one of the amazing abilities of some of these children.   

I was also especially impressed by a gentleman in his late 20’s to early 30’s that got up to speak and talked about when he was diagnosed with autism and how it has affected his adult life.  He is currently enrolled at UTC working on his MBA.  His major point was that we here in Chattanooga community and industry need to work with these folks and help to place them in appropriate  job situations.  They want to be functioning, contributing members of the community. 

I’d like to especially thank the professionals that work with these children in school settings and other places such as Orange Grove.  There job is not always easy and sometimes the rewards come in small packages and baby steps, and can be few and far between.  A big thank you goes out to Siskin Center, Orange, Grove, Signal Centers, and all of the other fine folks that work these children everyday. Thank you to the Hamilton County Special Education Department and all of those “special” employees who go to work every day and make a difference in some child’s life.  Thank you, Mayor Berke, for speaking to the parents at this gathering, and thank you to Mayor Lusk and his wife of Signal Mountain for sharing their family’s own personal experiences and making this real.

Tonight, and some nights to follow, thanks to the contribution of a company unfortunately whose name I didn’t get, blue lights will shine through the Miller Plaza Pavilion.  I hope that anyone passing by will stop and reflect on these children and their families and think about how we as a giving, loving Chattanooga community can help these children and young adults live a happy, fruitful, productive life.  

To find out more about this worldwide event and to donate to the cause, go to autismspeaks.org.  Light it up Blue is the theme of the event –Action has been taken to shine a light on autism.  Thank you, Chattanoogan.com, for printing an article about this event, otherwise I would have missed it entirely.

Donna Horn-former Special Education Teacher and Kindergarten Teacher
School Board Member District 7

Thanks To The East Ridge Police For Cleaning Up

I want to thank the East Ridge Police Department for cleaning up my neighborhood. In just the past week there have been three arrests made on my street alone for drugs. Please keep up the good work. There is still a need. I'd hate to see anyone left behind.   You wouldn't believe how the traffic and activity has slowed down. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.  ... (click for more)

No To The Gas Tax - And Response

Americans are finally catching a break at the gas pumps after more than 1,245 days of gas over a national average of $3 a gallon and what do members of both parties want to do, they want to tax you more on a gallon of gas. Haslam, Corker  and Washington D.C. want to talk about raising gas taxes.  Tennesseans already pay 39.8 cents (18.4 federal and 21.4 state) on every ... (click for more)

Investor Group Plans $31 Million Hotel In Chattanooga Bank Building

An investor group announced that it is planning the development of an upscale 150-room hotel in the historic Chattanooga Bank Building. MCA is comprised of 20 EB-5 investors as limited partners with Red Leaf Development, managed by David Roos, as the general partner. Long-time partner PHG is involved in the development of the hotel and will be responsible for its management ... (click for more)

Police Say Texts From Slain Minister Detailed Drug Deals

An investigator testified Thursday that a minister who was beaten to death during an apparent drug deal had texts on his phone dealing with similar exchanges of illegal drugs. The minister's wife said he had gone out that night as part of a church counseling program to women. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound charges of felony murder and especially aggravated ... (click for more)

UTC Cagers Upset No.7 Stanford

"Defense kept us in the game and our fans are great!." UTC sophomore Moses Johnson after the 54-46 win.   The giant killer has done it again. Relying on hustle, determination, key 3-pointers and 10 made free throws down the stretch the Chattanooga Mocs defeated visiting No.7 Stanford women 54-46 Wednesday at McKenzie Arena. Playing before 2,128 cheering ... (click for more)

Vols Land 4-Star JUCO Running Back Alvin Kamara

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football coach Butch Jones has signed junior college four-star running back Alvin Kamara, who is from Norcross, Ga., and originally signed with Alabama and then transferred to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Information on Kamara: ALVIN KAMARA R-Sophomore • Running Back • 5-11 • 200 Norcross, Ga. • Norcross H.S./Alabama/Hutchinson ... (click for more)