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Old July 6th, 2017, 12:36 PM   #681
Visionary7903 Male
Autism Awareness
  
 
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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 Maryland.

To the east, Autism Delaware is a Newark, Delaware-based nonprofit whose mission is to help individuals, including children, affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Its vision is that all people with Autism have opportunities to learn, grow and live full lives as included and valued members of their communities...
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Record-breaking attendance and weather extremes were the hallmarks of the 2015 Walk for Autism.

The annual event raises funds that benefit Autism Delaware's range of programs and services, including family support, clinical services, advocacy, awareness, and the adult employment and community resources program known as POW&R (Productive Opportunities for Work & Recreation).

...Autism Delaware board president Marcy Kempner introduced five-year-old Jacob Pantano ...before he led more than 900 walkers at the official start.

The route through Cape Henlopen State Park had been shortened by request to 2.2 miles.

At the finish line, walkers gathered in the celebration fun zone where hands-on crafts were enjoyed, courtesy of Home Depot...
Here is a link to a video from the Autism Delaware Walk from a couple of years ago:


Last edited by Visionary7903; July 25th, 2017 at 01:26 PM.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 01:00 PM   #682
Visionary7903 Male
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the last post was Autism Delaware, a Newark, Delaware-based nonprofit whose mission is to help individuals, including children, affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Its vision is that all people with Autism have opportunities to learn, grow and live full lives as included and valued members of their communities.

MarriOtters is a program that allows children with Autism, their families, and their friends to swim in the Courtyard Marriott pool for free...
Quote:
For Elizabeth and Rob Scheinberg, finding a safe haven for their family -- a place where they felt welcome with their autistic daughter -- all started with a letter...

Delia was 6 years old when she placed a letter in 'Santa's Mailbox' outside the Courtyard Marriott hotel on the University of Delaware's Laird Campus. Hotel directors had put up the mailbox in order to connect with the Newark community during the holiday season, not knowing then that the connection they would make would ultimately change the lives of local autistic children and their families.

The following year, Delia wrote another letter to Santa, this time for her 2-year-old brother, Harry. However, when she arrived at the hotel to mail the envelope, the mailbox was gone, which made Delia upset.

"When you have autism, you're used to the way things are and you can't break from that," Rob Scheinberg said last week.

Bill Sullivan, Courtyard Marriott director, said he and his staff didn't realize the impact of the mailbox and put it back up after learning of Delia's emotional attachment. The Scheinbergs came back a few days later to mail the letter and were introduced to Tracy Holmes, director of operations, who apologized and invited them all to go swimming in the hotel's indoor pool.

Elizabeth Scheinberg said she and her husband didn't take Holmes up on the offer, shrugging it off as nothing but a nice gesture. A few months later, Holmes reached out to the Scheinbergs and again invited them to swim in the pool, this time telling them to also bring along other families with children who have autism.

"I thought to myself, 'This woman is crazy,'" Elizabeth Scheinberg said. "You want me to bring my child into your beautiful hotel?..."

...Rob Scheinberg added. "...I can't tell you how huge it is to actually be welcome."

In April 2008, the Scheinbergs brought 25 families to swim at the Courtyard Marriott pool and, to their surprise, Holmes invited them back. After a few more swims, Elizabeth said Delia began referring to the hotel as "Tracy's house."

Elizabeth said the pool quickly became a safe haven for families and a place where their kids could play, interact and be themselves ?without bothering other people.? It also served a sensory function, as children with autism typically have a dysfunctional sensory system, meaning that sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation such as light, touch and sound.

?That?s what being in the water did. It fulfilled a sensory need for the children and it calmed them,? she said.

For Kim Herbert-Cheeseman, of Hockessin, the pool was an 'oasis.' She was able to get out of the house and relax in the enclosed space without fear of her autistic twin boys, William and Andrew, running away.

"As parents, we utilize those lounge chairs for sure," she said.

The pool also created a comfortable, judgment-free environment for William and Andrew to interact with other kids and practice making eye contact -- an ability which many children with autism lack. Plus, she said, swimming is a good way for them to get some exercise.

"The more and more we went, the more and more they loved it," she said.

After a while, the Scheinbergs and Holmes decided it was time to brand their little group and give the kids an identity to hold onto, so they called themselves the MarriOtters -- a play on both the name of the hotel and the group?s love for the swimming pool.

But the MarriOtters did more than just swim. Under Holmes? leadership and with help from Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management students at the University of Delaware, the hotel hosted Halloween parties, brunches, movie nights and other social gatherings for the children and their families.

Sullivan said it?s been their goal since day one to make the hotel a strong part of the local community, and with the HRIM students just down the street, hosting the MarriOtters seemed like a win-win for everyone.

"It was part of their education and part of our education and it helps us better care for the families that come in here," he said.

Delia, now 14 years old and a student at Gateway Lab School in Wilmington, said she still loves the MarriOtters and the Courtyard Marriott is pretty much her second home.

"We get to hang out," she said.

She's grown out of swimming and said now her favorite event is brunch. She said she likes the breakfast foods at the hotel, especially the oatmeal, and feels comfortable there, like she can be herself.

"I can't stress how important that is," her mother said.

Today, the MarriOtters is more of a free-swim format. Instead of organized meet-ups, families are welcome to come to the hotel whenever they want and just have to ask the front desk for a key to the pool.

Herbert-Cheeseman said her boys, now 13 years old, still beg her to take them to the pool, and she is grateful the hotel has continued the program after all these years.

"It is one of our escapes and our go-to for some sanity, and growing and social interaction for our children," she said. "I just can't say enough about it."

The group hasn't got together in a while, but Elizabeth said members are planning an event in April for Autism Awareness Month. However, it's been hard to carry on the group without Holmes, who [passed away] after her battle with cancer in August...

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