GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – At the end of the last school year, after the pandemic forced schools to go virtual, Jeana Buckner looked for a summer program for her 5-year-old autistic daughter Jordyn to help make up some of the learning she had lost.

She noticed other families having the same struggles.

“We wanted something more focused for our children that included some speech therapy, maybe some play therapy, also occupational if we could get it,” Buckner said. “There was nothing that we could find.”

So she started a program herself, naming it Twiddlebugs.

“I think, in a way, COVID provided the time and space for this activity to happen, and we just want to embrace it,” said Meredith Olson, President of the national nonprofit VELA Education Fund.

When Olson’s group learned about Twiddlebugs, it provided Jeana’s organization thousands of dollars in grant money.

“It literally paid for everything,” said Buckner. “It paid for our room to rent. It paid for all of our materials.”

“What we found is with a little bit of financial support and a lot of sort of cheerleading and moral support, we can help pull people together and be a resource so that they can unleash their dreams in the education space,” said Olson.

Because of Twiddlebugs and its grant funding, more autistic children in Gwinnett County will continue year-round learning, no matter what the rest of the pandemic brings.

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