Cover Girl

Cover GirlMeet Kiley Lyall, the first runner with autism to be on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. Kiley was selected as the magazine’s cover girl by readers as part of a contest.

Running since the age 8, Kiley, now 24, has a number of races under her belt and has done it all while dealing with autism, mild cerebral palsy and life-threatening seizures. Kiley’s mom, Kathleen, explains in this article, the sport has improved her daughter’s condition.  She said, “With everything she struggles with, she realized that running made her body feel so much better. She started talking more, and she started wanting to run more because it made her feel better.”

Kiley is a great inspiration and being on the cover of this magazine is much more than just a photo. As Kathleen said, “We’re hoping that it will open doors for these other athletes that have limited abilities, and just promote what they can do. Everyone thinks that running is this big elite thing – and it does take motivation and determination – but we want to change perception of these individuals and let people know that they’re very, very capable of achieving their goals.”

Lynsey, Community Manager

 

Caring Santa

Every year at Christmas time, you may be fighting an internal struggle – should we go visit Santa or skip it? Sure, you’d love to have that moment with Santa—your child is excited about Christmas, that’s for sure—and getting a good picture with him would be a bonus. BUT, if that Santa visit is in a mall or another high-traffic location, chances are that it’s a big sensory storm for your child—the lights, the music, the crowds, the waiting—and it may be just too much for them.

The good news is that many places are now offering special times for children with autism to visit Santa in a more sensory-friendly environment. It was an offer like this that allowed Erin Deely and her husband to take their son, Brayden, to see Santa at their local mall in North Carolina. The Deelys thought their chance of having Brayden visit Santa and get that traditional holiday snapshot was not possible after their son was diagnosed at age 3. But thanks to the Caring Santa program, organized by Autism Speaks, Brayden got to hang out with Santa on his own terms. As Erin explained it, “He (Santa) got down on his stomach and just started playing with him. They didn’t even talk to each other, really, they just bonded and played, and Brayden started to be really excited and started looking at him and smiling.”
caring santa

Thanks to this Santa, Brayden and his family had the holiday experience they had always hoped for. And while the Caring Santa program is in malls in 120 cities, there are similar sensory-friendly Santa events happening in additional locations, so chances are there’s one near you.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

The Impact of Our Words

I am CadenceThis is a note that captures a conversation between a mother and her 7-year-old daughter, Cadence, who has autism.  It’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming – and above all else, it’s a good reminder that we, particularly us adults, need to recognize that our words and actions can have a tremendous impact on our children. It was overhearing other adult discussions among parents and listening to the news that led Cadence to believe she was “bad” for having autism.  As Cadence’s mom, Angela, shared in her message on “I am Cadence

What ‘messages’ are children hearing—from ourselves, from other parents, at school, from media and in the general community? And what are the ‘take home’ learnings, spoken or unspoken, they are internalizing from these messages?

Cadence expressed what many children may be feeling, but unable to say, so let her words spread far and wide so we all may be more compassionate and respectful.

Lynsey, Community Manager