FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2013
Contact: Dawn Neufeld
Special Needs Children Often Overlooked During Disasters
Frisco, Texas – In response to the recent tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma, Texas resident and autism mom Dawn Neufeld is teaming up with Special Needs Network, HollyRod Foundation and Wake Up For Autism to help victims in the special needs community impacted by the storms. The groups are collecting items for families with special needs children.
“I’ve been to Moore and have seen the devastation with my own eyes,” said Neufeld. “I couldn’t help but think about families with special needs children and how they are dealing with the tragedy. Our kids thrive in routine, stable environments and Moore is anything but right now.”
Tornadoes have killed more than 40 people in Oklahoma in recent weeks, many of them children. Damage estimates are in the billions.
“The Red Cross is collecting donations. Country music stars have raised money for the victims. I’ve even seen people collecting items and donations for pets,” said Neufeld. “The folks we’ve reached out to in Oklahoma said we’re the first to offer help for families of special needs children affected by the tornadoes. Our kids have unique issues and there is a need to help those families.”
The Los Angeles-based organizations that Neufeld has teamed up with provide support for families impacted by autism and related developmental disabilities. After Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast last year, they mobilized to provide much-needed relief to special needs families affected by the disaster. Wake Up For Autism president Jodi Gomes, Special Needs Network president Areva Martin, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark and reality television personality Jacqueline Laurita delivered and helped distribute collected supplies including clothing and items of particular use to children with autism like weighted blankets and vests.
“As a parent of an autistic child and president of Special Needs Network, I know firsthand how difficult it can be for parents to regain stability after such a major disruption in their kids' daily routines,” Martin said. “I am humbled and honored that my organization can play a small role in helping families during such a time of crisis. The kids and families impacted by the tornadoes are true heroes and deserve all of our support.”
In addition to items like summer clothing, fans, shoes, diapers and wipes, the groups are collecting items that are particularly useful to special needs children. “We need things like pull-up diapers in larger sizes,” said Gomes. “A lot of older children with autism aren’t potty trained and pull-ups get expensive.” Relief organizers are also asking for gift cards to stores like Wal-mart and Target that can be given directly to the families so they can shop for items and supplies they need.”
Other items being collected include:
-iTunes gift cards (to purchase apps for iPads)
-Variety of lights for visual stimmers
-Velcro for everything from visual schedules to securing table top toys or activities
-Toys with textures
-Toys with switch adaptations
-Adapted equipment for PE for little people
Donations can be sent directly to:
Moore Association of Classroom Teachers
ATTN: Christi Olstad – Moore Tornado Relief/Special Needs
321 NW 1st
Moore, OK 73160
The organizations will also hand-deliver items to Moore. To drop off items in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area or for more information, please contact Dawn Neufeld at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements. For more information on autism or special needs resources, please visit www.wakeupforautism.com, www.specialneedsnetwork.org and www.hollyrod.org.