Pennsylvania autism kids’ group enjoys ‘Friendly’ visit each month

Todd Mincemoyer teasingly asked Joshua Seidel if he wanted extra honey mustard with his chicken fingers.

“No. Ketchup,” Joshua replied.

That’s typical of Friendly’s Restaurant server Mincemoyer, known to the autistic student buddies as Mr. Todd, who likes to rib the kids a little. The group is a regular for lunch the third Friday of the month.

“He serves everyone good,” said Joshua, 11, of Danville enjoying a “cotton candy” drink with a cherry on top before his lunch arrived.

Usually, the students from Danville Primary Center and Liberty-Valley Intermediate School go swimming at the Danville Area Community Center before they go to lunch at Friendly’s, but with a two-hour delay of school Friday, they skipped the swimming.

“It’s like a little celebration for us. They have been coming here for quite some time and we make sure the room is available to them. Todd has been building a great relationship with them,” Friendly’s district manager Bob Strachko said.

Parents of children enrolled in the two classes pay for their lunches, said Tami Williams, autism-support teacher at Danville Primary Center. Eleven students were there Friday, accompanied by teachers and paraprofessionals including Amy Willoughby, autism- support teacher at Liberty-Valley Intermediate School. The youngsters, from kindergarten through fifth grades, are enrolled in the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit program that pays for the swimming. The children come from districts served by the intermediate unit.

via Autism support group enjoys ‘Friendly’ visit each month » News » The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA.

Autism Speaks and Lindt Seeking Nominations for ‘Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism’ — STRATHAM, N.H., Jan. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –

Autism Speaks and chocolate manufacturer Lindt USA are seeking nominations for the Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism program.

The Unsung Heroes program — part of Lindt’s partnership with Autism Speaks during the Easter season — honors ordinary individuals who are extraordinary champions for those affected by autism in their family, home and community. Now through February 15, 2011, people can visit LindtGoldBunny.com to nominate themselves, or someone they know, for the opportunity to be chosen as one of three Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism.

Selected from an impressive pool of applicants, past honorees have included champions for autism education and research, family program providers, legislative activists and those who have established foundations and schools to benefit those directly affected by autism.The Lindt Unsung Heroes will each receive $5,000 toward their efforts and initiatives supporting those affected by autism. The honorees will be celebrated at events within their community, as well as receive recognition at, and paid travel to, a Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism event in New York this spring. All three honorees will also be featured on LindtGoldBunny.com.

“We are delighted Lindt continues to honor local heroes who are the everyday champions of a cause that affects so many,” said Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism research and advocacy organization. “It’s wonderful to see people who give so much, whether in their own family lives or those of others, be recognized and supported in this way.”

via Autism Speaks and Lindt Seeking Nominations for ‘Lindt Unsung Heroes of Autism’ — STRATHAM, N.H., Jan. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –.

Broward County, Florida’s Schott Communities launched school for adults with autism, special needs

This Florida program for adults with special needs will expand from Saturdays to five days a week. Household skills, public social skills, art and wellness are on the curriculum.

Where do deaf and disabled students find enrichment after they age out of public schools?

That’s the question Liz Disney said bothered her for months. As her 21-year-old special-needs daughter, Micaela, nears the cutoff for high school students, the mother wondered how disabled adults found social lives and stimulating education beyond the classroom.

“There’s a great need for students aging out of the system at 22. Their options are limited as to where they go after that,” Disney said. “I think it’s a common fear for parents with special needs. The community doesn’t exactly have fulfillment with jobs.”

As program director of the Cooper City-based nonprofit Schott Communities, Disney works daily with deaf and disabled adults craving life skills after graduation. To help special-needs students integrate from school into successful social lives, she’s launching a COMPASS program this September.

Stemming from a pilot program Schott created in January 2010, she said COMPASS builds character through classes ranging from ballroom dancing to speech therapy. The special needs-championing agency currently offers the class on Saturdays, which includes arts and crafts projects, a yoga course, field trips and “specials,” or specialized classes where guest speakers teach life skills.

via Schott Communities launch school for special-needs adults – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

Colgate University women’s hockey plays for autism awareness

The Colgate women’s hockey team has created an autism project in support of Kati Williams, a local teenager from Norwich, N.Y., who has been an avid fan of the women’s hockey program for several years and now serves at the team’s manager. Kati has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

“When I first started looking into what we could do to raise awareness for autism I was floored at some of the facts,” stated head coach Scott Wiley. “It was hard for me to think about autism affecting so many people. A new case is diagnosed almost every 15 minutes. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined.

Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. in which there is no cure or medical detection. It is our goal to make as many people aware as possible and have a positive impact on those families affected by autism.”

The project will kick off with Light Up Starr Rink Blue for the Rensselaer game on Friday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. that will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports. For that game the team will be wearing special edition puzzle piece jerseys, which will be auctioned online after the game and is looking to have at least 1000 fans attend the game. Free t-shirts, provided by Price Chopper will be given to the first 250 fans.

The team has also created online puzzle pieces through Autism Speaks, which are digital puzzles to send to family, friends and supporters of Colgate Women’s Hockey so we can help put the pieces together and raise money for Autism research.

via Colgate University Athletics – Women’s Hockey Creates Autism Awareness Project.

Sargent Shriver Peace Corps Founding Director, Special Olympics Leader, Dies at 95

The world today remembers Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, former ambassador, and Special Olympics Chairman of the Board Emeritus, who died Tuesday at 95.

Sargent Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 20003, and his daughter, Maria Shriver, became a visible Alzheimer’s activist. His late wife, Eunice Shriver, founded the Special Olympics, and Sargent Shriver was a leader the Special Olympics, as well, helping it to grow into an international organization. Special Olympics athletes who are trained as public speakers are given the special title Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers.

R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95.

His family announced his death in a statement.

Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died.

via R. Sargent Shriver, Kennedy In-Law and Peace Corps Founding Director, Dies at 95 – NYTimes.com.

SafetyNet proud to partner with Flutie Foundation for Autism

The Eighth Annual Flutie Bowl will raise money for autism programs as ticket holders mingle with the football great and other local sports figures and celebrities at Kings in Legacy Place on Jan. 20.

Proceeds go the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, a charity that Flutie and his wife, Laurie, established in 1998 in honor of their son Doug Jr., who was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

“The Flutie Bowl is a great event that brings together people who really care about the autism community,” said Flutie, who’s best remembered for his winning “hail Mary” pass as quarterback of the 1984 Boston College football team. “We always have a great time bowling and playing music. We encourage everyone to come out to Kings, and support autism and the foundation.

”This year’s event marks the beginning of a partnership between the foundation and SafetyNet, which makes a bracelet that enables police to track people at risk of wandering or becoming lost. SafetyNet will give the bracelets to financially strapped families with autistic children who could benefit from the device.

via Flutie Bowl at Kings to benefit autism programs – Dedham – Your Town – Boston.com.

Golfer Ernie Els plans Florida autism charity events

Ernie Els now has a charity event for amateurs that will reward fundraising skills as much as good golf, hopeful it can raise upward of $3 million to help build a center for autistic children.

It’s called the “Els For Autism Golf Challenge,” and it will involve at least 32 tournaments across the country featuring two-player teams that qualify depending on how much money they raise for the project.

Els, a three-time major champion and one of golf’s most popular figures worldwide, disclosed in March 2008 that his 8-year-old son, Ben, has autism. A year later, the South African announced plans to build the “Els for Autism Center of Excellence” in South Florida to be a research and education facility for children with autism.

“Years from now, people may remember me as a golfer and a major champion,” Els said. “But I’d like also to be remembered as somebody who took the issue of autism and did something with it.”

via Ernie Els plans charity events for autism.

Boston Conservatory program for children with autism helps music teachers, too

When Rhoda Bernard, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’04, heard a recording of an autistic teenager singing the National Anthem before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park this past summer, she was beaming with pride.

The girl was one of nearly 25 children with autism enrolled in the Boston Conservatory’s Students on the Autism Spectrum program where Bernard, as chair of the music education department, equips the next generation of music teachers with tools for educating all children equally.

“The best thing I can do is prepare the strongest generation of music teachers as they go off and teach in a program and create quality music education that advocates for the field,” Bernard says, noting that an outstanding music teacher can do terrific things for children, even those with autism.

via Music to Their Ears: Rhoda Bernard, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’04 – News Features & Releases.

Shonda Schilling hopes book raises Asperger’s awareness, compassion

While the Red Sox were in the middle of a season that would end with their second World Series title in three years, things were falling apart for Shonda Schilling.

Grant, then 7, the third of the Schillings’ four children, was out of control. She had suspected since he was a baby that something wasn’t right, but thought maybe he was acting out because the family had moved a lot or that he was no longer the youngest child or that his father, Curt Schilling, was on the road so much with the Red Sox.

When Shonda noticed that her 4-year-old, Garrison, was more mature than Grant, she knew he wasn’t just going through a phase.In late August of 2007, with the Sox playing in Chicago, Grant was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

via Telegram.com – An edition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Sunday Telegram.

Documentary celebrates Miami band of people with disabilities

The documentary For Once in My Life features Florida’s Spirit of Goodwill Band and its musicians and singers, all of whom have disabilities, including autism and Down syndrome.

If you didn’t get to see this documentary about the remarkable power of music in the band members’ lives at a film festival or community screening, you’re in luck. PBS will show For Once in My Life on Feb. 1. Check the PBS For Once in My Life web page for local listings.

The movie also has an awesome soundtrack, available on the For Once in My Life website.

Do you have the post-holiday season doldrums? For an uplifting experience, attend the Community Cinema Tuesday evening and view, “For Once in My Life.” This is a film about 29 unlikely people who form a band. Why “unlikely?” Because they all have disabilities ranging from autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy blindness, to behavioral disorders.

If you think of Goodwill as just a place to donate and purchase used clothing and goods, this movie will have you think again. Goodwill Industries includes a manufacturing plant where people of all backgrounds and experience are given a chance to become independent and gain self-respect. Whether sewing American flags or pockets for military garments, the handicapped work hard. Watching a woman deftly stitching a pocket using her only hand is impressive. She looks up, smiles and says, “I have magic fingers.”

The Spirit of Goodwill Band was formed at Goodwill Industries of South Florida in 1981 to encourage social and recreational skills with people who are handicapped. Some of the 29 people had never played an instrument before, never stood up in front of an audience. But, the band was open to everyone. All had one thing in common: A shared love of music and a dream to share their music with the world and prove a disability would not prevent them from performing.

via COMMUNITY CINEMA: ‘For Once in My Life’ an ‘uplifting experience’ | GJFreePress.com.