We're all familiar with the "nails on a blackboard" feeling that makes you cringe and sends chills up and down your spine. Try to imagine that feeling assaulting your system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Imagine an activity as simple as a haircut becoming a nightmarish ordeal because the clippers sound like a swarm of bees inside your ears ready to attack. Imagine a resulting life so affected by anxiety that the best alternative each morning is to remain in bed rather than greet the new day. Sounds intolerable for any adult, doesn't it? Yet these are but a few examples of the ramifications of sensory challenges faced by children with Autism. Due to the generous support from Speedway Children's Charities, the Anova Centers for Education (ACE Schools) in Northern California are able to help children with Autism overcome these challenges and succeed in school.

The ACE School incorporates Speech & Language Therapy, Social Cognition Therapy and Occupational Therapy into a modified and comprehensive school curriculum for children with Autism and related learning disabilities aged Kindergarten through 12th grade. At ACE, we recognize that it takes a complicated nervous system to integrate everyday sensory experiences. Most people have properly functioning complex nervous systems and can therefore take their five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch for granted. Most can also take for granted two additional senses: vestibular (balance) and proprioceptive (the sense of one's body internally and in space.) Typical nervous systems integrate all seven of these senses into a clear picture enabling us to readily navigate in the world. Children with Autism, however, have challenges with their senses and the integration of them, making basic life tasks very difficult. Because their senses operate differently, everything from running to zipping a coat, from bright lights to standing up straight, and from managing a pencil to reading basic text can seem insurmountable. At ACE, these children receive the additional help needed to overcome these obstacles.

Speedway Children's Charities is instrumental in helping ACE students succeed in the classroom and in their personal lives. By providing funding for specialized Occupational Therapy equipment and services that assist in sensory integration, Speedway Children's Charities is enabling hundreds of children to develop in school, and grow to their fullest potential.

For more information on the ACE Schools, please log onto www.anovaeducation.org.