School in Nacogdoches helps autistic children

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES - (KTRE-TV) The Helping House is where autistic children and patience meet.

A young boy named Oscar screams out. He's learning social skills, but a reporter's presence confuses him. A young girl repeats her name in a cadence, winning an approving smile from her teacher. They're just a couple, of several students, attending school at The Helping House, a private school providing early interventions behavioral therapy for children with autism and other developmental delays.

"What we want to promote at The Helping House is hope for autism,' says co-founder Amanda Johnson. "There are ways of alleviating some of the symptoms. There are ways to help these children be more confident in their bodies."

The children receive the instruction and time to develop social and communication skills. Jaxson Risinger, 5, proudly says his name. Others learn touching something different can be fun. "They do have problems with sensory and with touching new things," explained teacher Amber Sedberry.

She hands the kids a play dough substance. In just a few times Oscar becomes quiet and obedient. He's tolerating the visitor.

The school founders' goal is to not only educate the children, but also the public. Awareness leads to tolerance and understanding.

"When a mother of a child with autism takes her son to Wal Mart and gets disapproving looks because of their tantrums or whatever there needs to be a growing compassion in our communities for these families," said Johnson. "It is a struggle and it's not bad parenting."

A weekend fun run will help with public awareness. The funds raised will help with scholarships.

"My sons one of the ones that receives some scholarships from there so we're really excited about it," shared Jena Risinger, Justin's mom.

The 5K fun run is Saturday at TJR Elementary in Nacogdoches. More than 200 people are signed up. Late registration begins at 8 a.m. The race starts at 9 a.m. Along the route will be signs providing facts about autism.

The Helping House also serves as a clearing house for a wealth of information and support. The ultimate goal is to show people children with autism can learn and the love doing so.

For more information go to

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.