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CENT locations light blue for autism

posted Apr 7, 2018, 4:52 PM by Victoria Ries   [ updated Apr 7, 2018, 4:53 PM ]

The blue LED outdoor lighting at CENT Credit Union will be turned on at sundown throughout the month of April as a show of support for Autism Awareness Month and Our Loving Children, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting families of children with disabilities.

Mason City firm raises funds for local Autism group

posted Jan 2, 2016, 7:46 PM by Victoria Ries

MASON CITY | A local Autism awareness group has received $12,091 raised by a Mason City accounting firm. Special Kids Special Love was presented the check Thursday during a reception at RSM US LLP. The funds were raised in a joint venture with the charity which began in July and continued up to the RSM Classic golf tournament in November.

Sensory World opens at Southbridge Mall

posted Feb 1, 2015, 3:41 PM by Victoria Ries

MASON CITY, Iowa – Saturday marked the grand opening for Sensory World indoor playground at Southbridge Mall in Mason City.

The project is sponsored by the Special Kids Special Love organization. The goal is to provide a place for families with kids who have special needs to come and play.

“It gives them an opportunity to have a safe place to play to relax to unwind, and also give them a place to practice some of the skills that they have been working on while they are in therapy,” said Special Kids Special Love Co-President Lacey Carpenter.

Sensory World is open every Saturday afternoon from 1 -4. You can also reserve the playground for private parties. 

Autism Awareness Day at the Capital

posted Jan 18, 2015, 7:29 AM by Victoria Ries

Join us for Awareness Day at the Capital on Wednesday, January 28th. Don't forget to wear your red! 11am - 1pmRoom 230Meet on the 2nd floor stairs at 12:00pm for a group pictureAdditional details and updates can be found here

SENSORY WORLD: A Special Place for Special Kids

posted Jan 18, 2015, 7:18 AM by Victoria Ries

MASON CITY | Sensory World in Southbridge Mall is a place where special kids with special needs get special love at a special place to learn and play.Located across from Subway in the area that formerly housed an arcade, Sensory World is the newest addition to the mall. It is open from 1 to 4 p.m. each Saturday for special needs children up to the age of 12, accompanied by an adult. It is free. Beginning in February, it will also be open on Sundays. "It provides a safe place for special needs children to come and play and practice social skills," said Victoria Ries, who is co-president.She was a school teacher for 25 years and has an adopted son with autism. She saw the need for Sensory World and started to put the pieces together. She works with a five-member board of directors. Board member Jessica Dodge, who has a niece who is autistic, said support group meetings for parents are held once a month and there is also a lending library available for adults. Special events are also being planned for the children.There will be a black-tie fund-raising gala — Reach for the Stars-Special Kids, Special Loves — from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, in the ballroom of the Historic Park Inn Hotel. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at the hotel or online at The next day, Saturday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. there will be an open house at Sensory World in which the public can see what it is all about. 


Sensory World on Autism Speaks!

posted Jan 13, 2015, 6:29 AM by Victoria Ries

A Playground Specifically Designed for Kids with Autism. An organization in Iowa is combatting cabin fever and offering kids with autism a space to play in a place called "Sensory World," KIMT reported. The indoor playground, complete with inflatables, toy trains and a ball pit, is located at Southbridge Mall in Mason City and was designed specifically for kids with autism. The idea was spearheaded by program coordinator Kathy Steenblock, a committee member on the board of Special Kids Special Love. “It’s hard for autistic kids to be in social environments,” Steenblock told KIMT. “It might be overwhelming or, it might be too stimulating and sometimes it’s hard because others don’t understand their condition, so they don’t feel as comfortable, but we are hoping to provide a comfortable place where they can be themselves and have fun with other kids.”
Read more about the new space on ~ Autism Speaks

Study: Autism Therapy Produces Greatest Gains When Started Before Age 2

posted Oct 11, 2014, 3:03 PM by Victoria Ries

A new study provides further evidence that earlier intervention for autism increases the likelihood that a child will make significant gains in social and communication skills. The study findings underscore the importance of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for autism screening at 18 months. They likewise support efforts to expand the availability of high-quality early intervention for all children affected by autism. - See more at:

KIMT reports on FDA ruling on Autism!!

posted Aug 15, 2014, 7:19 PM by Victoria Ries

Great news on KIMT! FDA ruling to help crack down on those trying to give substandard care for families desperate for help. There isn't a quick cure but there are ways to help. The only therapy that is scientifically proven to be effective at addressing the needs of an individual with autism spectrum disorder continues to be ABA directed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Visit the Board Analyst Certification Board (BACB) at to see if there is a quality provider near you!

KIMT News 3- The Food and Drug Administration says they are cracking down on those who say they have a quick cure for Autism.

The disorder now impacts 1 in every 68 children in the U.S. and that number could be growing. Autism is also one of the fastest growing serious developmental disability. We talked to an expert in this field who told us more about the condition. “At this time, unfortunately we do not have a cure. There is no cure for Autism, however there are a number of things that can help, that can help with symptoms,” Therapist and Physiologist Sharon Davern said.

Davern also told us that you need to talk to your doctors before doing any treatments.

New digs for MC car dealer!

posted Aug 10, 2014, 7:20 AM by Victoria Ries

What a great supporter and advocate for Autism and SKSL!!!  Thank you DaLayne!  

DaLayne Germundson said his auto sales location is bigger and is in a better location. 

The details:

About Mason City Auto Sales:

615 N. Federal, Mason City

DaLayne Germundson, Owner

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 to 1 Saturday; closed Sunday.

Contacts: Business phone, 641-423-1733; cell, 641-210-5571.

MASON CITY | Mason City Auto Sales needed more room, so it moved from 18 N. Monroe Ave. to 615 N. Federal Ave., site of the former Velvet Touch Car Wash.

With 18 years of experience, owner DaLayne Germundson started the business in May 2013. The new location now has more than 8,000 square feet inside the building, plus it is a better location with more traffic, Germundson said.

This month, he will begin putting in smaller windows and lower the ceilings to help with energy costs. He will rent out storage in the building for campers, motor homes and cars. 

All cars are checked out, Germundson said, and are offered in a wide price range. Some cars are purchased locally; others are from wholesale dealers.

Germundson checks out cars and takes issues to his mechanic. Cars also receive detail work.

Germundson, who sees himself having another car lot in Mason City within the next two years, believes honesty is the main quality in building a business.

“Being honest and fair will carry you and people will find out,” he said, adding that word of mouth is best and that newspaper advertising really helps sales.

Germundson also is proud of his work on autism awareness through Special Kids, Special Love, a non-profit organization which helps with love, support and advocacy. The symbol, a puzzle piece, is on anything he owns. Holders for license plates have “Autism Speaks” on them. The symbol is also on the location sign and business cards.

His involvement came from working with his 10-year-old autistic son who was diagnosed at 16 months. Previous to that, he seemed to be developing normally, walking and talking, but regressed to being silent.

Last year, Germundson donated a vehicle for an autism benefit and he is planning to donate more this year, upward of $9,000 he said. From the benefit last year, $6,000 was raised for Mason City schools for the needs of autistic and special-needs students.

In helping his son, Germundson said, he has turned more to religion and his demeanor is softer, adding to a belief in helping people in need. 

Racing cars is also a family tradition, including extended family. Nephew Kyle Germundson got married on a Saturday and won a race on Sunday, and that generated newspaper coverage.

J.J. Wise races for him.

“The whole car is one big puzzle piece,” Germundson said, reflecting the puzzle piece that represents Autism Awareness.

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