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Meet Your Neighbor: Scout creates sensory book for autistic students

Fayetteville Observer - 12/24/2018

Dec. 24--Cumberland County Schools officials were so impressed with Oliver "Cale" Croom's sensory books project for autistic students that they gave him a framed appreciation letter.

The books also are being used at New Century International Elementary School.

Croom, a 16-year-old junior at Jack Britt High School, developed the books that help autistic students focus as part of his Eagle Scout project.

After doing research, Croom developed the five-page sensory book, which has different textures on each page so autistic students can rub their hands on the pages.

The pages include bumpy, rough, smooth, soft and rubbery.

"They will just feel the different materials and have fun with it. They'll just be focused," he said.

Croom enlisted scouts from Troops 716 and 40 and Venturing Crew 32 to help put the books together.

"For kids who are sensory deficient, it always felt good for me to help them," Croom said. "It basically adds to their sensory diet where in class they will stay focused and have fun in class. It really helps the teachers out. It was just really special for me and my family."

On Dec. 5, school officials recognized Croom and his project in the Educational Resource Center.

Sean Brost, a special education preschool program specialist, presented Croom with a framed letter of appreciation, and teachers offered their thanks.

"I always think of Eagle Scout projects as building things, or something outdoors," Anita Ritter said at the event. "This project is amazing and will be a great help to our students."

Scott Pope, principal at Jack Britt, said Friday that Croom is a great student academically and shows great compassion for others.

"He is certainly thinking about other individuals," Pope said. "He definitely has a lot of compassion for his students who don't have the abilities he has."

Oliver's mother, Tiffani Croom, said she is proud of her son.

"He thought out of the box as far as a project goes, because a lot of times when people think 'Eagle Scout project' you think about something out in nature, something you've got build, something to help somebody, like church organizations or schools. We are really proud of the fact he was thinking of someone that was not as advantaged as he is," she said.

Croom, an only child, grew up in Fayetteville, and the family lives in Gates Four. He is a third generation Eagle Scout, plays baseball for Jack Britt and is in the National Honor Society.

Tiffani Croom said her son enjoys video games.

"He is a really big movie buff," she said. "He likes Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings. He likes music. He doesn't play an instrument but has a good ear for music. He doesn't like the new top 40 but is into Classic Rock. His favorites are Queen, Ozzy Osbourne, Dire Straits."

His father, Lewis Croom, works as a magistrate for Cumberland County and his mother is a sales representative for the fragrance company Juicy Couture.

Tiffani and Lewis were high school sweethearts. She said her son was born on his dad's birthday about 11 weeks premature.

She said even when her son attended kindergarten he cared about kids with special needs.

"He had classmates who were on the autism spectrum and he always kind of sought them out to make them feel accepted," she said.

Staff writer John Henderson can be reached at or 910-486-3596.


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