Newark’s Owens Corning employees do their part for autism awareness

Cody Moore passionate about autism awareness
Cody Moore, a production supervisor at Owens Corning in Newark who has an autistic son, spearheaded a plant project to aid local kids on the spectrum.
Dave Weidig, Newark Advocate

NEWARK ― Cody Moore blocked off two hours for Owens Corning employees to complete a project near and dear to his heart last week during Autism Awareness Month.

Thanks to tremendous support, however, it didn’t take nearly that long for the group to stuff 150 bags full of sensory materials that will aid autistic kids in Licking County through Autism Society Central Ohio.

“I came up with the autism event here because multiple people working here have family members with autism who need this help,” said Moore, a production supervisor whose 5-year-old son is on the spectrum. “Owens Corning, and other people, donated money for these items and I went out and purchased them.”

The bags were then presented to the Autism Society for local distribution. Autism Society director Kathi Machle was grateful.

“Many individuals with autism experience sensory input differently than people designated as ‘neurotypical.’ Items, such as those donated to Autism Society Central Ohio by Owens Corning, can help those individuals participate more comfortably and more fully in school, events and the community,” Machle said.

“For example, someone who is highly sensitive to sound may be able to remain in a loud, crowded place with the assistance of noise-cancelling headphones. Others may find that fidgets and sensory toys have a calming effect in overwhelming situations” Machle said. “Access to these items may help to alleviate the stress which results from the sensory and social differences experienced by many in the autism community.”

Upon getting approval for the project, Moore spread the word with slideshows and e-mails, and over 30 employees responded. He was ecstatic.

“It was a really good turnout, and it was a mixture of hourly and salary employees,” he said. “A lot of people understand how hard it is (to deal with autism), and some don’t.”

Rich Hale, wool plant supervisor, could see the excitement on Moore’s face when he came up with the idea for the project as part of Owens Corning’s inclusion and diversity efforts.

“Cody is very passionate,” Hale said. “Owens Corning has been a long-time staple for this area, and this shows the care our people here have, that they would take the time to listen and help the community.”

Greg Shaffer, a 41-year employee, said it was the first time he had ever seen something done at the plant for autism, and it especially hit home for him and his wife, Kitty, who came along to help. They have an autistic grandson, Chase, who cannot communicate verbally and instead uses an iPad.

“Our ATV group did a ride for autism, and we’ve thought about having a poker run,” Shaffer said.

Kitty Shaffer pointed out that autism, a developmental disability, affects four times as many boys as girls.

“Chase was diagnosed at 1-year-old, and fortunately, his parents are in the medical field. Usually, it’s not until 3 or 4,” she said. “Anytime you can help these kids, it’s such a worthwhile cause.”

Items packed into the bags included noise-canceling headphones, kinetic sand, pop ropes, pop tubes, bubbles, widgets, stress balls, square breathing and memory cards. “They were all from local resources,” Moore said.

He hopes to make it an annual project at Owens Corning as he continues to raise awareness about autism. His son, now 5, was diagnosed at age 2. Moore and his wife became parents of a new son last week.

“Some people are in denial and don’t want to get that diagnosis,” he said. “A lot of families don’t understand the impact it has on a family. I have to leave work sometimes, to get him to therapy or early intervention. Sometimes it’s three hours a day. They say it truly takes a village to raise a kid, and in the case of these kids, it absolutely does.”

This content was originally published here.