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.

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.

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.

Fun activities for children with autism in new book

CHICAGO — Susan Walton’s son has autism. He was diagnosed at age 2, when she was pregnant with twins. Spontaneity, she learned, would quickly become a thing of the past, as predictability and routine became of the utmost importance.

But the mom of three was determined to keep her family’s life filled with joy.

“The biggest mistake we can make is to put family fun at a low priority,” she writes in her new book, “Coloring Outside Autism’s Lines: 50+ Activities, Adventures and Celebrations for Families with Children with Autism” Sourcebooks, $14.99. “It is easy to be consumed by the role autism forces us to play. We are caretakers, therapists, nutritionists, nurses, taxi drivers and so much more.”But for the sake of your child and your family, having fun needs to form a central part of any intervention and therapy you pursue.”

via The Republic – Fun needs to be on the checklist for a child with autism.

iPads used to help Florida preschool children with autism

A Ft. Lauderdale preschool program for children with autism has raised enough money to buy an iPad for each of its 18 classrooms.

As United Press International reports, the tablets are loaded with applications such as Proloquo2Go, a communication app that allows users to select phrases and words to make sentences.

The school raised the money for the iPads in an “18 iPads in 18 Days” donation initiative.The Baudhuin Preschool, located at the Mailmen Segal Institue at Nova Southeastern University, specializes in teaching children with autism spectrum disorders with programs designed for pre-kindergarten students.

The school teaches about 150 students through a contract with the Broward County Board of Education.

via Faster Forward – iPads used to help children with autism.

Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college

As a child, Megan McCormick of Lexington was told by her parents that her Down syndrome meant she would “have to work much harder” than those without disabilities to achieve what she wanted.

Her parents, James and Malkanthie McCormick, both physicians, never treated her any differently than her five older brothers and sisters though, a fact she credits with helping her graduate high school in 2007 with a 3.75 grade point average, and give her the confidence to enroll in Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington.

“It’s hard, but I’m pushing on,” said the 22-year-old, who so far is earning As and Bs, and is focused on becoming a certified occupational therapy assistant.

McCormick said her success is due in part to a program run by the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute called the Postsecondary Inclusion Partnership. The program provides support for individuals with intellectual and related developmental disabilities to attend regular college classes at postsecondary institutions around the state. Those disabilities can range from Down syndrome to autism, and also can include individuals who have experienced brain injuries.

via Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal.