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Old February 9th, 2017, 09:05 AM   #661
Visionary7903 Male
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

4 Paws for Ability is a Greene County, Ohio-based nonprofit that enriches the lives of children with various challenges, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs. This provides increased independence for the children, including in other areas like Pottsville, Pennsylvania...
Quote:
Matthew Peleschak is a cute 8-year-old boy with big plump cheeks and a love for his ipad and playing with a toy-slot machine with his little brother and sister

But despite that their brother is older, playing with him can be difficult.

And to show that the family loves Matthew, they're trying to get him a dog to help him. they've teamed up Four Paws For Ability, a nonprofit that provides trained dogs to children who live with disabilities. The average cost for a dog is about $22,000, of which, 7-thousand must be fundraised.

The dog would basically serve as both his best friend and guardian angel. It will help him live an independent life.

And to get the dog, the family is fundraising. They're selling handbags, marykay makeup and t-shirts online, local schools donate dress down day money to them, and even local resurants are helping out with penny jars

So far, the family has about $2,000, but thay piggy bank is quickly growing...
Here is a link to a video of the guide dog interacting with the above-mentioned boy and his family: https://www.facebook.com/matthew4paw...5723835024972/


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 11th, 2017 at 11:48 AM.
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Old February 11th, 2017, 11:50 AM   #662
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

The Schuylkill County Autism Society (SCAS) is a Orwigsburg/Frackville, Pennsylvania based nonprofit that has helped make life a little easier for those dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the county for the past decade. The nonprofit's goal is to provide information, support and resources to individuals with autism and autism spectrum disorders, their families, professionals and community awareness activities, education and research...
Quote:
Several parents gathered Sunday to "compare scores," but everyone was a winner at the sixth annual Sensory Picnic hosted by the [SCAS].

"When parents of autistic kids get together, there's often a lot of sharing stories like someone learned how to ask for something or quoted something correctly or wash up on their own," Sasha Eidinov, Pottsville, said. "These are like our baseball scores. It may not seem like much, but it's the little accomplishments."

Eidinov was one of about 70 people - parents and children - who attended the picnic...

Judy Barket, society president and picnic organizer, said the event was held to allow children to meet some of their peers, socialize and experience new things.

"There were several interactive stations that allowed the children to get to do things that they might not otherwise do on their own," Barket said.

Jessica Mennig, Pottsville, a society board member, was responsible for a tie-dying station that she called an educational opportunity mixed with fun.

"It's stimulating and allows for color recognition and honing of fine motor skills," Mennig said.

Barket said the picnic, like other events and meetings the society holds, helps to foster a community.

"This allows parents to network and talk about common daily hurdles that we have," Barket said.

Jim ...Pfeiffenberger [and his wife], Pottsville, said that was one of the most important parts of the day for their family.

"It helps us to get ideas and exchange ideas, learn what might have worked for someone that may work for our child," [Mrs.] Pfeiffenberger said.

Mennig also said the more relaxed and informal atmosphere of the picnics, compared to society meetings, was helpful.

"They can relax, they can meet others and just socialize a little more naturally," Mennig said.

Eidinov ...thinks events like this help parents come together and celebrate their children.

"Everybody loves their kids," Eidinov said. "It's a great day for all of us to know we're not alone. We're not the only ones."

The society meets monthly...
Here is a link to photos of the SCAS' annual sensory picnic from over six years ago: republicanherald.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?iframe=1&event=1085068&CategoryID=52561/


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 12th, 2017 at 10:49 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2017, 12:11 PM   #663
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, based in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, is a nonprofit whose mission is to advocate, educate, and provide services and support for people with various challenges, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties has hosted a 'Wings for Autism' event for the past couple of years...
Quote:
Families of autistic children will have an opportunity next month to practice air travel without ever leaving the ground.

The Arc of Northampton and Lehigh counties partnered with Lehigh Valley International Airport and Allegiant Air to organize "Wings for Autism." It's geared toward autistic children...

The event is based on a pilot program developed by the Arc of the United States and completed at large hubs across the country, including Logan International Airport in Boston, according to Bruce Seidel, development director for Arc of Lehigh and Northampton counties.

In planning since last November, Wings for Austism will be held May 9, and the program was at capacity within a day or two after registration opened, Seidel said. The event was limited to about 240 participants because it involves boarding a jet, he said.

Airline travel, particularly the lengthy security check process, is something that those with [various challenges including Autism Spectrum Disorders] can find very challenging, often preventing families from traveling, Seidel said. The Wings for Autism event will allow families to simulate the process of air travel, he said.

Families are scheduled to arrive at the Allegiant ticketing desk at 9 a.m. to begin the process. From there, they will go through a regular security screening process and make their way through the terminal.

Passengers will board an airplane that will taxi down a runway, offering as complete an experience as possible, Seidel said.

The event will include more than 40 volunteers to assist families along the way, offering information on how to handle certain situations. It could be something simple a family never considered, such as bringing along headphones to combat the noise associated with takeoff, Seidel said.

"In the event they plan to travel, this gives them real-life experience about where their family member, who has a disability, has trouble along the trail," he said.

There are many "moving parts" in organizing an event like this, and organizers are just trying to get through the first one, Seidel said. But based on the tremendous interest in this event, Arc is already considering a second program, he said.

Alexis Harvey is a program manager at KidsPeace, overseeing the organization's autism services.

Airline travel can be a hassle for the average person, considering the sometimes long lines and security checks, Harvey said. But the challenges are amplified for someone on the autism spectrum, she said.

"When they're out of their routine or do something that don't understand or don't know what to expect, it can be very anxiety filling," Harvey said.

Many on the autism spectrum have a sensitivity to sound or light, making a trip through the airport daunting with bright halogen lights in a large open space and the echoing public address system, Harvey said. And once on the plane the sound of the engines kicking in can be quite stressful, she said.

A working theory about autism is that those affected establish order and routine in their day-to-day activities, which gives them some control over their lives, according to Harvey. Travel easily upsets that order.

Harvey said she works with many families, for instance, who have difficulty in transitioning their autistic children to school because they are going from the comfort and security of their home environment to new surroundings.

Someone with autism can have difficulty processing basic day-to-day functions, such as standing in lines and interacting with strangers, Harvey said. A typically developing child will watch their parents and siblings to pick up social cues, while autistic children will often be described as being aloof or in their own world, she said.

"We take for granted that our kids just naturally learn," Harvey said.

As with most parents, Harvey said she can just give her 3-year-old a disapproving look and communicate without words.

"He knows what that look means," she said. "But if you do that same thing for a child on the spectrum, they won't necessarily even be looking at my face to get that clue."

Being able to discern the look of a displeased parent requires the ability to infer, something an autistic child is not developing, Harvey said.

Some families simply opt not to go on vacations because it's outside a child's routine, Harvey said. Sometimes they choose to stay with family or they find places with a focus on special needs, she said.

"This is certainly the first hurdle for a family planning to travel," Harvey said.

And as beneficial as the program can be for families hoping to travel, Harvey believes it can be equally as important for airport staff in learning how to handle autistic children.

As the Lehigh Valley continues to evolve and become more diverse, programs like next month's Wings for Autism can lend to that growth, Seidel said. As large employers, for instance, recruit to the area, that may include families of children with a developmental disability, he said.

"In the consideration process for accepting a job here, a big factor is what kind of community am I moving to," Seidel said. "What services and programs are available?"...
Here is a link to a video on the nonprofit's 'Wings for Autism' event from a couple of years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3BNCM2EWrQ/


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 17th, 2017 at 10:27 AM.
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Old February 18th, 2017, 11:26 AM   #664
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

Dragonfly Forest is a Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that provides overnight camping experiences for children with various challenges, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. The nonprofit provides a full Autism Summer Program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders...
Quote:
Last summer, 8-year-old Scott Jones was nervous about going to sleep away camp for the first time?especially about being away from his mom. But after a week filled with swimming, boating, hiking, ...games, and arts and crafts at Dragonfly Forest camp in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Scott had such a great time that he wanted to go back the next week--and the one after that.

This type of experience is just what the camp aims to give: one where kids with disabilities, including those with autism, like Scott, can enjoy an unforgettable week. "Generally speaking, when you ask people about their most favorite memories, they're not in therapy, or school, or in the classroom," says Sylvia van Meerten, the camp's program director. "Their favorite memories are when they were intentionally pulled away from life to have fun. We're here to do just that--give them a week based on fun."

Founded in 2001, Dragonfly Forest offers free summer sessions ...and in TK year expanded to provide a session for children on the autism spectrum as well...

Now, the yearly session attracts nearly 200 campers, on all ranges of the spectrum, from Pennsylvania and neighboring states. (And the program is quickly expanding to include after-school sessions...)

The staff takes pride when visitors say it looks like a 'regular camp,'...

The camp includes facilities you would find at many traditional camps: dorm-style housing, a 14-acre lake, a rope elements course, a zip line, tennis courts, hiking trails, a gym, and an arts and theater center.
But the staff does take measures to make sure Dragonfly Forest is well suited to kids on the spectrum. The key: to relieve their anxiety in social situations, says van Meerten. Kids with autism have a hard time picking up social cues and predicting what will happen next, which can make them anxious and nervous, she explains. "A typical person would feel anxious in a different culture where things don't make sense," van Meerten explains. "Kids with autism feel like that all the time in everyday life."
To alleviate this stress, the staff provides information booklets before camp starts, sticks to schedules, and offers detailed explanations before every activity and meals so campers know what to expect. (Van Meerten even gave out her personal email to answer last-minute questions before the start of the session.)
Counselors, who are trained each summer for four to seven days, are assigned to an individual camper for the session, with a counselor/camper ratio of 2:1...

And it's not just the kids' stress that Dragonfly hopes to relieve--the program is free in an effort to ease the financial burden for families.

...And possibly the biggest plus of all: Once camp is over, the kids head home with a newfound sense of confidence and independence...

Case in point: Scott wouldn't try the zip line at a friend's house before Dragonfly. After conquering the zip line over the summer, the family added a mini-zip line to the backyard. "[Scott] is the kind of kid that hangs back and assesses the situation," his mother Rebecca says. "His hang-back time is a little bit shorter now."
Here is a link to a video from Dragonfly Forest from last year:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 19th, 2017 at 07:09 AM.
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Old February 21st, 2017, 11:28 AM   #665
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

Variety -- The Children's Charity of the Delaware Valley is a Worcester, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that has continued its mission to build independence and self-confidence in individuals with various challenges, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The nonprofit offers educational, recreational and social enrichment activities...
Quote:
Last January, Noelle Murphy and her family were on their way to the Please Touch Museum for children in Philadelphia. Right before they arrived, 3-year-old Dylan had an accident.

...Dylan has autism, and his mom, Noelle, tends to choose at-home activities over unpredictable outings like a day at the museum. ...when strangers around them are added to the mix, it can make for an embarrassing scene.

But that day at the museum was different for the Murphys.

They took advantage of Play without Boundaries -- an hour of museum time for kids with special needs. No weirdness, no awkward explanations, just families with other families who understand the challenges of being in public with kids who are on the autism spectrum.

...Murphy said[:] "It was an extremely different experience than what we are used to."

A study released Monday by the American Alliance of Museums finds more and more of these centers for learning and preservation are also places where health awareness is on display. The Please Touch Museum is one of over 30 museums in the U.S. that has responded to the special needs of visitors with autism.

"My first reaction in the car on the way home was to cry," Murphy said. "My husband asked why I was crying, and I said it was so nice to finally take him somewhere other kids go without having to worry about an unpleasant experience ... for us and those around us."

But it's not always easy to take a kid with autism out into the world, especially a museum. ...For these youngsters, if a place doesn't have appropriate accommodations, museum-going is a no-go for much of their childhood. That's because so often, what seems like a fun diversion ends up causing feelings of anxiety and sometimes panic.

That's why some museums have made special accommodations. "During those hours the museum looks different," said Leslie Walker, Please Touch Museum's vice president for community learning.

Flashing lights are dimmed, and booming music is turned down. Kids who want a sense of security about their visit are encouraged to create custom schedules and maps beforehand. And museum employees who will teach kids about the exhibits go through sensitivity training to learn what needs a child with autism might have to interact like their peers.

"They know now to bend down and get on that kid's level, and to wait awhile before following up if they ask a question," Walker said.

At museums that acknowledge not every kid craves raucous, stimulating sights to have a good time, parents of children with autism find public places where they can be themselves. And they don't have to miss out on experiencing another childhood pastime with their kids, like getting lost in a museum.
Here is a link to a video on the Please Touch Museum:



Last edited by Visionary7903; February 22nd, 2017 at 07:14 AM.
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Old February 22nd, 2017, 07:24 AM   #666
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in eastern Pennsylvania.

Theatre Horizon is a professional nonprofit theatre company headquartered in the county seat of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: Norristown. Theatre Horizon produces challenging dramas and inspiring and memorable musicals...
Quote:
Every Saturday, a group of students with autism and autism spectrum disorders gathers [in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania] for a very special type of play therapy. The students, ...from 5 [years of age,] are participants in Theatre Horizon's Autism Drama Outreach Program, which strives to inspire imaginary play, help children with autism find their own voice and teach social skills in a fun and positive way.
The Norristown, Pa. theater began offering the program five years ago, with just one autistic child, his parents and a small group of actors eager to learn how to utilize their experiences in theater to reach children on the autism spectrum. Theatre Horizon now has a rotating staff of 14 experienced teaching theater artists comprising area actors, educators and artists.
"This program is something we're very passionate about," says Michael McElroy, education director at Theatre Horizon. "Acting is all about controlling how you're perceived. But for many of these kids, not knowing how others perceive you is a big challenge. The program teaches communication skills and provides a social forum in which the participants can make connections with the teachers, actors and other students."

Each six-week session includes classes for boys and girls age 5-8... The program is educational in nature, with a performance aspect, and uses core principals of the Son-Rise approach, relationship-based play therapy that focuses on bonding and support.
The program focuses on each child's unique and individual motivations and builds off of them, encouraging relationships and creative play. Teachers create custom-made games that cross the child's motivations with the program's goals for them. In addition to teaching the basics of drama, the program incorporates principles of the three E's - energy, enthusiasm and excitement, and focuses on acceptance and encouragement.
"This program really gives kids a way to express themselves," says Maura Roche, a teacher and scenic designer at Theatre Horizon. "We're using theater as a means to help these kids empathize and socialize with others, which is often difficult for kids on the autism spectrum. Many of our students come back session after session and form lasting friendships. For many of them, something as simple as making eye contact is a major milestone."

..."This program really gives the kids who are participating an opportunity to shine," says Mia Rotondo, a teaching artist at Theatre Horizon. "The feedback that we've gotten from the families involved has been very positive. The kids are excited to be here and are able to learn at their own pace in a safe environment. Even kids who are nonverbal can show their excitement and enthusiasm, and it really helps them come out of their shell."
Kate Altman, who has been involved in the program since its inception, adds, "The program provides a learning opportunity for both the teachers and the participants. Our goals are acceptance, inclusion and giving people with disabilities value in our society."

Tuition for the classes is offered on a sliding scale, for as little as $10 per class, due to partnerships with grant-making foundations and private donors who recognize the need for the program.
"We're constantly looking to build partnerships with the local community to further our programs and promote the arts scene in Norristown," says Rotondo. Theatre Horizon is hoping to attract even more attention to the program with the opening of a new theater space in the former Bell Telephone building this fall, which will house the nonprofit's new performing arts center and include space to continue educational programming onsite.
"This new space will help us meet the needs of underserved students with special needs in the Norristown area and continue to expand our programs well into the future," she says...
Here is a link to a video from Theatre Horizon:

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