Roses for Autism

Roses for Autism employs teenagers and young adults with autism. Roses for Autism ships roses and other flowers nation-wide.

Don’t have your act together for Valentine’s Day? Thanks to Roses for Autism RFA, you can buy freshly-cut, fragrant Connecticut-grown Pinchbeck roses – if you order quickly.

Yes, these are the same famous Pinchbecks, grown under glass in Guilford since 1929, once sought after by hotels in New York and Boston for their heady fragrance and full blooms.

After the Pinchbeck family decided it could no longer run the business in 2008, Ability Beyond Disability, a nonprofit organization based in Bethel, set up RFA through its Growing Possibilities arm. The rose growing, wholesale and retail operation not only keeps a Connecticut tradition and agricultural production going, it provides life training and career opportunities for adults who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

via The Day – Roses for Autism to the Rescue | News from southeastern Connecticut.

Teen with autism is a gifted timpanist

Standing in a tuxedo in a Penfield High School hallway on Friday night, Dennis “D.J.” O’Keefe sways back and forth.

His head cocks up and down between sentences, and he fiddles with his lapel as he talks. His speech — quick and clear at times, choppy at others — is often interrupted by a nervous clearing of his throat.

O’Keefe was diagnosed with autism shortly after his second birthday. The Penfield High School senior has faced his share of resulting adversity, and has plenty of challenges ahead of him as he prepares to enter college and life beyond.

But if you whistle a tune, he can name every single note.

And in the 32 years that Jim Doser has taught music in the Penfield Central School District, O’Keefe is the most talented timpani player he’s ever had.

“As a timpanist, he’s the best ever,” said Doser. “He has a future in music as much as anyone else does. We’ve all been encouraging him to go this route.”

O’Keefe, 18, is no savant. He’s got some innate talents, for sure — the most impressive being his ability to identify the music note of any sound that’s played for him, a trait commonly called perfect pitch.

But when he’s in front of his percussion instruments in the school music room, or the pillows he sets up as makeshift drums in his bedroom at home, he’s just another teenager trying to hone his musical skills.

“Two hours, Monday through Friday,” he said.

The combination of talent and tenacity has led to some substantial opportunities for the teenager. He’s won scholarships to summer music camps and practices with some of the best percussionists in Rochester.

via Penfield teen rises above autism as a gifted timpanist | | Democrat and Chronicle.

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.

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 | | The Courier-Journal.

Opportunities grow for students with autism, Down syndrome

Like many of his peers, Ben Majewski had a lifelong goal of going to college. Now, the 20-year-old who has Down syndrome and hearing problems is living out his dream despite his disability.

Majewski, a graduate of Newton North High School, is in his first semester at Massachusetts Bay Community College’s Wellesley Hills campus, taking a psychology class in career and life planning, getting tutoring, going to the gym, and making new friends.

“I got a buddy here, he has Down syndrome, he’s a veteran around here,’’ Majewski said. “He’s showing me the ropes, teaching me where everything is, and helping me meet new people.’’

Higher education used to be out of the question for students with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders, but now, there are increasing opportunities for such students to go to college in part because of a recent infusion of state and federal funds. In Massachusetts, the Inclusive Current Enrollment Initiative, a partnership between public high schools and seven community colleges that started in 2007, is helping students ages 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities pursue higher education.

via Opportunities grow for students with disabilities – The Boston Globe.

World level cup stacker with autism wows crowd in Wisconsin

Wow! Follow the link to watch 13-year-old Jesse’s hands fly as he stacks cups for a crowd in Wisconsin. Sport-stacking has really taken off, as this Wall Street Journal story, which focuses on Steven Purugganan, 13, the three-time world champion, reports.

People at the 2nd Annual Transition Conference in Eau Claire got a special treat Thursday when they were able to watch local teen with a unique talent.

Jesse Horn, 13, is a world level sport stacker who is autistic. He is from Buffalo City here in Wisconsin and was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. He has been competing in sport stacking since March and already has several record times. He says he wants to increase awareness of the sport by competing.

via World level cup stacker in Eau Claire.

High school football team gives player with autism a touchdown

Menomonie, Wisconsin, high school senior Sam Kolden has been a member of the Indians football team since the 8th grade.

He also has autism. So when Menomonie’s coach asked Superior to let Kolden catch a pass in a game that the Spartans were trailing 46-14, the answer was clear.

“There was no indecision whatsoever,” Superior head coach Bob DeMeyer said. “The guys in the huddle with me just chimed in and said, ‘Let’s do it, Coach.’”

via High School Football Team Gives Opponent With Autism A Thrilling Touchdown | NBC 4i.

Lessons on college life and living with autism

LIKE MOST college students, the kids at the College Internship Program have spent the last few weeks gearing up for classes, meeting roommates, readying for life away from home. But on this tiny campus in the Berkshires, they’ve been getting extra help.

For instance, they take courses in “executive functioning’’ — not business techniques, but the cognitive work of decision-making and self-control. In their classroom, posters offer tips for talking to acquaintances. “Smile and say ‘hello’ to initiate a dialogue. Ask them how they are to build rapport.’’

For people with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder, this is hardly intuitive stuff. And if the number of autism diagnoses has risen dramatically, so too will the number of teenagers who reach this tentative place: ready to leave the cocoon, but not quite ready for the world.

via Lessons on living with autism – The Boston Globe.

‘Clay Marzo: Just Add Water’ and

“Clay Marzo: Just Add Water,” the award-winning documentary about a champion surfer with Asperger’s syndrome is available as a DVD or download. It gets a good review here from AspieWeb.

If you’re a fan of Clay Marzo or surfing, check out for some fabulous photos and videos.

From AspieWeb:

So I finally was able to watch a video about world famous surfer with Autism Clay Marzo. The movie titled ‘Just Add Water’ is a great video and I highly recommend it! The video does a good job showing how successful and great people with Autism can be. This is a great video for the person with Autism who is feeling down and like they will not be successful. There are also interview with Dr. Tony Attwod the world expert on Aspergers.

via Clay Marzo: Just Add Water – Autistic Surfer.

Colorado Springs center to teach life skills to autistic, developmentally disabled people

The tidy apartment near Constitution Avenue and Union Boulevard has it all: washer and dryer, stove, microwave and refrigerator, a TV and sitting area, a furnished bedroom and a handicapped-accessible bathroom.

All that’s missing are the 24 teens and young adults expected to occupy it — not as tenants, but as students.The apartment is one of several real-life teaching rooms at the Foundation for Successful Living, a new center that aims to give autistic and developmentally disabled people ages 14 to 21 the social and vocational tools they’ll need to transition from classrooms into their communities.

At the apartment, the students will learn to do laundry, make a bed, clean, plan meals, cook and keep a budget. In the room with the ersatz bank and post office, they’ll get lessons in handling money, keeping a checkbook and sending mail. The grocery store is where they’ll shop for canned goods and other ingredients for the meals they’ll prepare in the apartment, and the bakery is the place where they’ll practice ordering from a menu, paying for their food, counting change and beefing up their social skills.

via Center to teach life skills to autistic, developmentally disabled people | microwave, constitution, apartment – Local – Colorado Springs Gazette, CO.