After being bullied in Middle School my son, Colton, who has Asperger’s Syndrome found his place in the world by being the water boy for his high school football team. But after graduation, he was again left searching for what we all need, a place to fit in. People with Asperger’s have a natural inclination to turn inward. They prefer to be alone because Asperger’s annihilates any social skills. If left to themselves and without intervention people with Asperger’s can become self-destructive and lead unproductive lives.
Many things can be done for people like Colton and others with disabilities. It is amazing how what may appear to be a minor thing to the rest of us turns out to be life altering to those with disabilities. Sadly, many with disabilities don’t get to give or receive all they can in their communities because they have no way to engage. Often caregivers are unable or unwilling to get them where they need to be. In our case, Colton has a younger, more profoundly disabled brother, which makes it nearly impossible to get anywhere. My worries about Colton floating through life unconnected, with no friends or sense of community proved unfounded when STRIDE entered in.
STRIDE (Supporting Therapeutic Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities Everyday) STRIDE provides an environment that caters to the needs of each participant. The focus of STRIDE is not to entertain, even though laughter and entertainment abounds. The center of the program is to provide a safe place for people with intellectual disabilities to learn and grow, so they may become all they can and give back to those who have so lovingly given to them.
STRIDE participants have classes where they are taught valuable life skills such as cooking and money management.
STRIDE is environmental conscious when they plant their garden and grow their own food.
During fundraisers for STRIDE, you will always find the participants working.
They are active and volunteer in their community.
They learn self-defense.
STRIDE is A LOT of learning fun.
STRIDE has taught Colton how to turn the word friend from a noun to a verb by teaching him to not only have a friend but be one as well. During a modified rope course Colton volunteered to go first which was a huge shock to me because Colton has always been terrified of things like that. He once flat refused to climb over a very sturdy, steady, wide-bar gate, so for him to attempt moving ropes is nothing short of miraculous. When I asked him about it, he said he felt like he needed to be an example to his friends. He said, “I thought if I did it first they wouldn’t be so scared.” Through teary eyes, I told him how proud I was. Then I saw the pictures and the tears flowed freely. He explained how he and his friends were “spotting” each other and sometimes just holding on to them or giving them a boost, because, he said, “we all need a little help.” Indeed, we do.
Today I’m asking you to give a little help Colton and all his friends by simply voting for STRIDE in the Toyota 100 Cars For Good on Nov. 18. Toyota will give away vans to organizations receiving the most votes. Considering STRIDE picks up and drops off participants in only one van getting a new van would be a huge benefit to them. You have to wait until Nov. 18 to vote for STRIDE but you can go to the page https://apps.facebook.com/carsforgood/ and have a reminder sent to you on the day of voting. Or you can follow this blog and I will be sending out a reminder to vote as well. You can also follow the Facebook page “Vote For STRIDE in 100 Cars For Good”
When I look at this picture, I see Colton on that rope scared to death but trying to be an example for his friends. The faces of his friends clearly reveal their uncertainty but their hands reveal their hearts. They are unsure but still willing to reach out a helping hand. All their hands together will cover Colton should he need help. But your hand will cover all of them when you reach out and help by voting for STRIDE on Nov. 18.
- Thousands rally around man with Asperger’s berated by Wegmans customer (foxnews.com)
- Aspienwomen: Adult Women with Asperger Syndrome. Moving towards a female profile of Asperger Syndrome (understandingpda.com)
- Dropping A Bomb: A Story About Telling Someone Else About A Possible Asperger’s Diagnosis (eyesthroughtheglass.com)
- My Life with Asperger Syndrome (cowichannewsleader.com)
- Man with Asperger syndrome missing in Bedford (star-telegram.com)
- Cruel Woman Who Berated Cashier With Asperger’s Doesn’t Get the Last Word (thestir.cafemom.com)
- ACE Launch – “Living with Asperger syndrome and autism in Ireland” by Dr Stuart Neilson and Diarmuid Heffernan (aceucc.wordpress.com)