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.

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