A recent $466 grant from the Autism Whispers Fund in Memory of Terri Ann (Marshall) Gard enabled Jackson Middle School to purchase flexible seating for classrooms serving students with sensory needs. The ability to bounce or to feel enclosed or wrapped up have been noted to be calming and help with over- stimulation. One teacher, who starts her day with sixth graders sees the difference that the new seating makes.

"Some days students come in feeling tired, discouraged, or nervous. They might have had a hard night or morning at home. They might be anxious about what’s ahead of them in the school day. They almost always make a beeline for the spinning egg-shaped chair, where they can curl up and pull the shade closed over them. When they emerge, they have a whole new attitude and a smile. They feel calm, safe, relaxed and ready to learn. It resets their day."

Terri Ann (Marshall) Gard

Terri Ann (Marshall) Gard was a well-loved Parkersburg native who devoted her life to her family and faith. She enjoyed traveling, going to the beach, volunteering, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Gard retired as an Autism Mentor after working at Wood County Schools for more than fifteen years. She brought to her role at the school many life experiences that helped her to connect and to communicate with her students. Her patience and understanding made her not only a wonderful mother, but an exceptional mentor for youth with autism spectrum disorders.

Terri Ann Gard passed away on May 27, 2019 following a courageous battle with cancer. To honor Gard, her family established the Autism Whispers Fund in Memory of Terri Ann (Marshall) Gard at the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation to forever provide financial assistance to programs supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorders in the Foundation's service area, including programs within the Wood County School system.

The Fund created by Terri's husband of more than forty-five years, Tim, and their children, Austin, Lance, and Sierra, is designed to continue her caring legacy and to honor her dedicated service to area youth with autism spectrum disorders. This grant to Jackson Middle School is the first of many more to come.