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 and Summer: Learning social skills

Some kids spend the summer learning archery, the backstroke or tennis. Some children with autism are working this summer on their social skills – an area where autistic people often need help.

The Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville is  holding a Social Skills Summer Camp this summer. Campers 7 to 11 years old work on basic social skills; 12- to 14-year-old campers continue to learn social skills and build on them with field trips; campers  15 to 21 years old learn social skills and early on-the-job skills.

In Wisconsin, a group of parents, teachers and others started an 8-week Social Summer Experience for autistic children. And The Autism Project in Rhode Island is offering a variety of social skills classes for children on the autism spectrum this summer.

In Lawrence, Kansas, a high school for autistic students offers a summer course on socialization with field trips to a variety of community settings.

From an outsider’s point of view, the scene looked pretty chaotic as students and staff from Free State High School’s summer autism program took a trip to a restaurant.

Of the dozen students on the outing, several were yelling, one was crying, and others expressed emphatically that they simply didn’t want to eat there.

One by one, staff members worked to calm the students.

The program and the community outings are all part of social skills lessons the program emphasizes during the summer months when the students are away from regularly scheduled classes.

“These kids need to be out in the community as much as anybody else,” said staff member Emily Hughes. “Our biggest goal is to help them learn how to be independent.”

via Free State High School’s summer autism program encourages social interaction /