Taking autistic kids out to a ball game
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CNN
Posted: June 23rd, 2014
For many families, a night at the ballpark is a treat. But it can be a nightmare for those with autistic children. Autism causes a greater sensitivity to environmental stimulation. So the lights, music and roar of the crowd can trigger a severe meltdown that is difficult to anticipate and control. "They're frustrated and they're scared and they're just overwhelmed," said Debra Forman, whose 8-year-old son, Adam, has autism. "You have to ask yourself if it's worth it." Dr. Wendy Ross was heartbroken to hear stories like this from families. The developmental pediatrician also knew that isolation didn't serve her patients well in the long run. "If kids are not in the community, building their skills from very young ages, then there's no reason to expect them to be independent one day," Ross said. "It's a social disability. It needs to be addressed in a social setting." So in 2007, Ross set out to do just that. Today, her nonprofit, Autism Inclusion Resources, helps families affected by autism navigate challenging social situations, such as airport travel, sporting events and museum visits. Ross partnered with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 to develop an innovative program. She armed all the Phillies game day employees -- approximately 3,000 people -- with knowledge about autism and how to interact with individuals who have the disorder. Now, everyone from the ticket takers to the hot dog vendors ... help create an atmosphere where families feel supported. Each family is ... provided a clinician at the game who gives additional support if problems arise. For Forman, having the professional assistance was a huge relief.
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