According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC), autism affects every one in 68 children in the US. The developmental disorder is increasing in prevalence each year, and without any known cure, those on the spectrum are in need of individuals that will work towards advocacy and educate the general public.
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) at Monmouth University is working to do just that. As a professional association of educators, CEC is committed to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, standards, and development. Through volunteer work and events, members are able to directly interact with those that have special needs and inspire them to be confident in their abilities and redefining their disorder.
Stacy Lauderdale-Littin, Ph.D., Department Chair of Special Education along with assistant professor Carol McArthur-Amedeo, Ph.D., act as co-advisors for CEC. “Joining our organization provides Monmouth University students with valuable learning experiences. Our members have learned how to interact with children with special needs, and with their families. They have learned about providing recreational activities for children. As they watch these children have a genuinely fun time at dances, they have learned the benefit of creating positive recreational experiences. They have learned that all children want to socialize with others, and that they deserve an enriching life both in and out of school,” said McArthur.
CEC has helped Monmouth build healthy relationships with local organizations within the community through sponsorships and volunteer work. CEC works very closely with The Shore Center for Students with Autism in Tinton Falls and The Schroth School in Ocean Township. In the past, the organization has hosted the annual Halloween Dance, Winter Wonderland Dance, Valentine’s Day Dance, Family Picnic Day, and an End of the Year celebration. The organization is also involved in community charity events, such as the Autism MVP walk.
Stephani Grana, president of CEC and senior education student, said, “Making the students happy is ultimately the most rewarding part of being in this organization, and many of our current members have expressed that they agree with this statement.”
Grana continued, “This organization is especially important to education majors and other majors that may entail working with children because it allows Monmouth students to gain hands-on experience with a different population of students and exposure to different types of learners that they may encounter in their future careers.”
While the initial goal of CEC was to provide a boost to an education major’s resume, the life-enhancing experiences have become more valuable for students than any talking point on an interview ever could be.
“CEC gives students an outlet to network with each other and share common interests,” said Lauderdale-Littin.
The Council for Exceptional Children is always welcome to new members of any year or major. The organization currently consists of a diverse group of individuals that offer additional insight from various disciplines, such as education, business, and psychology.
If you’re interested in joining CEC, contact Stephani Grana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexis Goswick, a sophomore health and physical education student said, “I am very excited about becoming a member of CEC! I enjoy working with children and this committee will give me the knowledge and experience that I can apply to make a difference in a child’s life.”
IMAGE TAKEN from Monmouth CEC Facebook Page