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Old February 9th, 2017, 09:05 AM   #661
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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.


...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 23rd, 2017 at 11:32 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 23rd, 2017, 12:01 PM   #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.

In neighbouring Maryland, Pathfinders for Autism is a Baltimore County, Maryland-based nonprofit that has grown into the State's largest autism organization dedicated to helping individuals, parents, and professionals find resources, supports, and training while working to increase the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Similar to other non-profits, Pathfinders is supported by grants and independent fundraisers...
Quote:
...Rebecca Rienzi - Pathfinders' director of outreach and community partnerships - works with local organizations such as the Port Discovery Children's Museum and the Maryland Science Center to help coordinate activities with autistic children. Usually, the trips are during off-peak times, when the crowds are smaller. She makes sure the venues have a quiet room reserved in case there is an episode. So far, she said, they haven't had to use one of the rooms.

This past spring, when Rienzi helped put together a trip to the Science Center, she asked the employees to turn down the sound effects to keep children from getting overstimulated. She also told them what kinds of behavior to expect from the children. The trip, which was sold out in advance, was a hit, she said.

"Families were mingling," she said. "There was no one questioning why somebody had a stroller..." she said...
Here is a link to a short video from the nonprofit: https://www.facebook.com/Pathfinders...4993633436465/


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 24th, 2017 at 11:25 AM.
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Old February 24th, 2017, 11:34 AM   #667
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of yesterday's post was Pathfinders for Autism, a Baltimore County, Maryland-based nonprofit that has grown into the State's largest autism organization dedicated to helping individuals, parents, and professionals find resources, supports, and training while working to increase the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Similar to other non-profits, Pathfinders is supported by grants and independent fundraisers.

Trellis Services, also based in Baltimore County, Maryland, specialises in serving children with Autism and other related disorders using the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Trellis's Love to Learn is a child-led, teacher-directed program that provides 1:1 instruction to children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old using the Applied Verbal Behaviour methodology...
Quote:
April is Autism Awareness Month, and at a school in Baltimore County, something happened by accident that gave students with special needs a chance to teach and learn.

At the Trellis School in Sparks, students are in their normal morning meeting. But two weeks ago, things were far from normal for these children with special needs.

It all started with a strange smell.

"We couldn't locate (the smell) so we decided to move all of the kids from one side of the building to the other and call the fire department," Trellis School education director Reyes Vera said.

The culprit turned out to be a problem with the water cooler, and for the students, the incident led to an educational opportunity. Trellis is a school for children [from pre-kindergarten age] with autism and [other challenges.]

The students said that they recently got first-class treatment from the first responders, who understood how to delicately relate to some of the students.

"I was a little nervous at first because fire drills could be scary for them with all the noise and all the lights," Trellis teacher Amanda Wingate said. "But when the fire trucks came, the firefighter said, 'You guys can go outside,' and they were all like, 'Let's go.'"

"They got on (the fire truck)," Vera said. "They got to see the equipment. Some of them sat inside of the truck. The firefighters were just really amazing."

Trellis executive director Suzanne Heid said the incident highlighted to them that the community is aware of their students.

"(Firefighters) don't necessarily need to be trained in those areas," Heid said. "They were so amazing with our students."

"It was really awesome for (students) to understand that when a fire drill happens, in a firefighter will come and they will help you and it's not a scary thing," Wingate said.
Here is a video from Trellis Services from a couple of years ago:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 25th, 2017 at 10:53 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2017, 11:01 AM   #668
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the last couple of posts has been on Autism-related events and organisations in Maryland.

Maryland is also home to the annual 'Baltimore Autism Speaks Walk'. The event raises funds for Autism Speaks, North America's leading Autism science and advocacy organisation...
Quote:
When 7,000 Autism Speaks participants lined up at Camden Yards for the annual Baltimore walk on November 12, as many as 350 enthusiastic seventh-graders from Chesapeake Bay Middle School lingered among the crowd.

...The seventh-graders at Chesapeake Bay Middle School became involved in raising money for autism awareness six years ago when the teachers were trying to select a service-learning project for them.
"The teachers wanted something that would be meaningful to students," said Embrey. "In talking with them, it was apparent that almost all of them either had a family member, a neighbor, or a classmate on the autism spectrum. So we set our project up as a walkathon to raise money for autism awareness and, after some research, we decided that the recipient of our funds would be the group Autism Speaks."
In their first year, Embrey's team of approximately 130 students raised $7,400. The next year, the Black-Eyed Susans were joined by another seventh-grade team and raised nearly $12,000.

...The seventh-graders have teamed together for the last three years and have raised approximately $10,000 every year.
"Altogether, in the five years we have been fundraising, we have raised about $50,000 for Autism Speaks," said Embrey. "Each year, we basically set it up so that the students get pledges for donations for the laps they run or walk. The first three years, we used the track at the high school, but in recent years, we have set up a course at our own school."
Embrey believes that students have become so invested in the Autism Speaks project because almost everyone is touched by autism.
Fundraising efforts begin with an awareness kickoff, where one of the CBMS teachers speaks to the entire class and describes her life raising a child with autism. The presentation gives the students insight about the challenges faced and expenses families experience when raising a child with autism.
"The assembly and subsequent discussion of autism allow students to also share their experiences with people they know and the difficulties they and their families have," said Embrey. "Teachers show videos about how hard it is for families to raise a child with autism, emotionally as well as monetarily."
CBMS also makes the fundraising competitive, with the top fundraisers earning an invitation to a pizza and ice cream party. "With autism becoming more prevalent, I think our students, through much discussion, see the need for raising funds for this worthwhile charity, and most of them want to help others as much as they can," said Embrey.
Students will hold another walkathon next April, designated Autism Awareness Month, with a goal of meeting or exceeding their goal of raising at least $10,000.
With CBMS being recognized as one of the top fundraising schools in Maryland for Autism Speaks, the organization awarded the teachers an oversized reclining chair for their commitment and dedication to Autism Speaks.
Donations are being accepted through December 31, 2016...
Here is a link to a short video on the 'Walk' from four years ago:


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Old February 26th, 2017, 01:02 PM   #669
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

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

Coaches Powering Forward for Autism was created in 2014 after NCAA Coaches Pat Skerry and Tom Herrion embarked on a mission to raise awareness of autism. Today, nearly 300 coaches and their staffs support individuals living with autism through the Coaches Powering Forward for Autism campaign...
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Owen Skerry slumped into the last row of golden seats and cupped his ears, a preemptive strike to block out the noise usually generated on game days. But on this Sunday, there was only silence inside an empty SECU Arena, and it threatened to disrupt the routine so important to the 4-year-old autistic child, whose father, Pat, coaches the Towson men's basketball team.

"Can you tell me what's wrong?" Owen's mother, Kristen, asked as he rocked around and kicked a nearby chair. It turned out he wanted juice. Kristen pointed to Owen's lap, at the computer application that helps improve his verbal skills. "Can you show me on here? Can you show me juice?" she asked.

Owen tapped the screen twice, and an automated voice piped through the speakers. "Candle juice," it said. Owen giggled at the nonsense phrase. He had developed a keen sense of humor with his limited vocabulary, asking for popcorn and bagels during bath time. These small moments of growth were cherished by the family, but having an autistic child means the process is never over.

To the Skerrys, the process involves reviewing the day's schedule before leaving the house in the morning so Owen won't be surprised and throw a tantrum. It includes driving Owen to the speech therapist (three times a week), morning class (four times a week), occupational therapy (once a week), afternoon school (four times a week) and, on Fridays, alternating sessions of behavioral and feeding therapy.

It means practicing the walk from the parking lot to the arena so Owen won't fuss at an unfamiliar path before Saturday's game, when fans will stuff the place to watch the Tigers play Drexel but also to learn about children like him.

Last season, Kristen and Pat Skerry created Autism Awareness Night, inviting local advocacy organizations to Towson's home game against UNC Wilmington. This year, they're thinking bigger. On Saturday, at least 82 Division I coaches --- with names like Boeheim, Krzyzewski and Izzo -- will wear puzzle-piece pins shaded royal blue to symbolize autism awareness.

"It's become bigger than I thought it would be," Pat said, holding Owen's hands as they stepped onto the court. "But it's on a much greater level than some basketball coaches asking each other to wear something on TV."

...When friends ask about the severity of Owen's condition, Pat and Kristen Skerry find it difficult to answer. The autism spectrum is employed abstractly to recognize the wide range of possible symptoms. It doesn't slap a grade or number on the individual. The way autism manifests in Owen is different from others. It's just easier to tell his story.

"It was at 18 months," Kristen began. Pat was coaching at Providence in 2010, still climbing the ladder as an assistant. Owen had reached all the normal physical benchmarks like crawling and walking, but he wasn't talking and wouldn't make eye contact.

At first, autism was a foreign concept. Pat had seen the 1988 film 'Rain Man,' but that was all he knew about the developmental disorder. Kristen had earned her master's degree in counseling and education from William and Mary and once studied a child with Asperger syndrome -- one particular disorder on the autism spectrum -- but was surprised at how little that prepared her for the real thing.

Four years ago, Tom Herrion found himself in a similar situation. Now the men's basketball coach at Marshall, Herrion struggled to understand the situation when his son, Robert, was determined to be autistic.

...the two families started planning this year's event. Skerry and Herrion split a list of coaches in half and texted each one to ask whether he would support the cause. Before long, Skerry had to place a call to Autism Speaks, which supplied the pins. So many people wanted to wear them. He needed more.

...Pat had stayed behind Sunday to watch film for Towson's next game, so Kristen drove home -- on the same route they always take. Owen rushed into the living room and opened the computer again, watching the jerky videos he shot at the gym as Kristen fixed lunch. Owen used to have food aversion, another common symptom of autism. Outbursts were common at the table, but with the help of a specialist he now tries new foods every week.

"Who knew there were feeding therapists?" Kristen said.

The Skerrys can afford Owen's treatment, but many can't. The average family spends $60,000 per year in care, and Maryland is one of 16 states that lacks health insurance coverage for autism. It is one of the many reasons Autism Awareness Night means so much to Skerry. He knows other families aren?t as fortunate.

The Skerrys have learned to celebrate the little things, things they took for granted with Ryan, Owen's 8-year-old brother. A cry-free swim class earns a phone call to Daddy. New words get written in a journal. Recently, Owen approached another child on the playground, tapped his shoulder and said hello. It was big for Owen's social growth.

Some autistic children avoid human contact, but Owen seeks it out. "Come over here and show them how to wrestle," Kristen said from the living room sofa, and soon it became a family affair. Ryan softly pressed Owen's head into the cushion and whacked him with a pillow because Owen loves the sensation of skin on fabric. Owen giggled, flashing his baby teeth, and his cherub cheeks turned a rosy red.

"A day in the life, I guess," Kristen said, one boy nuzzled under each arm.

..."What's the next step?" Skerry asked. "How do you keep the ball rolling?"

Skerry has already imagined what could happen with Autism Awareness Night in the future. Funds raised. Expansion to the lower levels of college basketball and to high schools so more coaches can spread the word. Getting people to realize that affected children are something other than 'Rain Man.'

As for Owen, the ultimate goal remains integrating him into society. This month, he will turn 5. Next year, he will start kindergarten, an all-day program that will present new challenges. He has his colors and numbers and letters down cold, but Pat and Kristen wonder how he'll behave in a classroom for an extended period of time.

"It's a process," Skerry said as he turned toward the television and went back to work.
Here is a link to a video:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 26th, 2017 at 01:31 PM.
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