Marysville Special Education PTSA connects parents to community resources

MARYSVILLE — Marysville mom Dani Rice discovered she wasn't alone when her daughter, Morgan, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

"It's very common," Rice said. "There are three other people, just on our street, whose kids also have Asperger's."

While children with Asperger's syndrome are not rare, Rice has nonetheless found it a bit more rare to find places where she can consult with others about the challenges that are unique to raising a child with this syndrome.

Rice and other area parents of children with special needs were able to check out a host of regional resources in a single spot, during the Marysville Special Education PTSA's Resource Fair on March 9.

"There's so much that I didn't know," said Rice, whose arms were literally overflowing with books, pamphlets and fliers that she'd collected in the Totem Middle School cafeteria that day. "It can be difficult to navigate the system, but there's so much advocacy here."

The resource fair was a first for the Marysville School District, bringing together school district personnel with private service providers and non-profit groups under the same roof, so that parents of special education students could access all the resources available to them locally, at one place and time.

Children found plenty to keep themselves entertained while their parents browsed through informational booths. Jamie Schmieder was one of several kids who took advantage of the free books offered by the Tulalip Lions Club, while Acashia Atkins and her friends played a learning game, featuring cute frogs, courtesy of Pacific Learning Solutions.

"Pacific Learning Solutions provides strong learning therapies that can make your brain more efficient," said Nola Smith, owner of the School Box store in Arlington, a subdivision of PCS. "We help students of all ages become independent, confident learners. A 20-year-old college student came to us with a 1.8 GPA after struggling all through high school. We used two different therapies to develop his memory and comprehension skills. He graduated with a 3.4 GPA and became a businessman in the community."

Bonnie Ramsey, unit director of the Marysville Boys & Girls Club, touted her volunteers' ability to provide all children with positive activities after school and during the summer.

"We're equipped to deal with every form of disorder," Ramsey said. "I have training in ADHD and OCD. We're ready to work with all children and treat them equally, without turning any kids away."

To that end, Ramsey noted that the Marysville Boys & Girls Club is trying to build scholarship funds for children in need who might otherwise be unable to use their services.

While Cheryl Davis welcomes support for the Special Olympics, she'd be just as happy if more people in the community simply knew that Special Olympics has a presence in Marysville.

"We've been getting the word out about who's eligible to participate and who isn't, but a lot of folks don't even know that we're here," said Davis, program manager for the Special Olympics in Marysville. "Everybody thinks of track when they think of Special Olympics, but we also have sports such as bowling, basketball, swimming, soccer and golf."

Davis has witnessed firsthand how participating in Special Olympics has helped children and adults with special needs develop social skills and make new friendships.

"Learning to play sports helps them in all aspects of their lives," said Davis, who's worked with Special Olympics for 28 years. "They love it. It's such a big thing for them."

For more information on Special Olympics in Marysville, call Davis at 360-653-0634.

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