By community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — During Autism Awareness Month, an East Mt. Airy couple is shining a light on how partnering with your public school can help create better services for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Derek and Sheila Green are the proud parents of Julian, a seventh-grader who was diagnosed with autism at an early age.  They sent him to their local public school, Houston Elementary, on Rural Avenue in East Mount Airy, starting in pre-kindergarten, but noticed larger class sizes when he got to first grade.

“We noticed there were more kids and more kids in the classroom,” says Sheila Green.

They went to the school’s principal, who suggested a solution.

“The principal, Kim Newman, said, ‘Let’s create an autism support classroom here at Houston,’ ” recalls Derek Green.

Six years later there are three such classrooms at Houston Elementary, serving a total of about two dozen kids.   And thanks to the small class sizes and specialized teachers, Julian is developing well.

Now, the Green family is paying their good fortune forward, helping to raise $40,000 for Autism Speaks and raising awareness for those who can’t afford a special school for their special needs child.

“Sometimes your public school can be a great resource,” Derek Green notes.