Prison Inmate with Special Mission

Another great story that we saw here (from an ABC News story), and wanted to share with you…and this is a true example of how one’s past doesn’t define their future.

Meet Chris Vogt, who is serving a 48-year sentence in prison. And what could have been a bleak existence has turned into a positive experience for not only him, but for Zach Tucker, a nine-year-old with autism. Chris has made it his mission for help improve the lives of children with autism – so he has worked on a specialized dog training program at the prison that will cater to those with special needs. Check out the video for this very heart warming story.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Lunch Buddies

Tate (center) and two of his buddies

Tate (center) and two of his buddies

I learned about a program called Lunch Buddy – through this article – and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you. Maybe you’ve heard about this type of program  — or, better yet, maybe your child is involved in something like this at school.

The article specifically talks about a mom, Lisa, who established a program for her second youngest child, 13-year-old Tate, who has autism. When Tate was in second grade, Lisa, along with help of her son’s school, brought together students from Tate’s class to have lunch with him on a rotating basis. This served as an opportunity for Tate to practice social skills – asking questions, working on the reciprocity of language, and even body language. His Lunch Buddy program is now in its fifth year, and although it’s been a long road and it took a lot of adult guidance over the course of these years, Tate’s parents are seeing how much he has developed socially in that time.

And here’s the thing, I have no doubt that such a program has been so greatly beneficial to Tate, but what I actually really love from this story is the impact it has had on his classmates that have been helping Tate over the years during their lunches – and recess time – together. Being a lunch buddy to Tate was something they had to sign up for, and it has empowered the kids to know they are helping Tate. As one of the lunch buddies said, “It’s kind of easy ‘cause he likes everybody. He’s just a good friend and he understands you.” Another said, “Some people don’t really listen to you when you talk, but Tate always seems to be listening to you. And he always knows the right things to say.” What an amazing teacher Tate has been to these kids as well.

Lisa discusses the Lunch Buddy program on her blog, Quirks and Chaos, which we encourage you to check out.

Lynsey, Community Manager

 

Happy Birthday, Colin!

coliniseleven

coliniseleven

When Colin, who is 10 years old and has a sensory processing disorder, was asked by his mom if he wanted a birthday party this year, he said there wasn’t a point because he had no friends. As his mom explained, because of his disabilities, social skills are not easy for him and at school he eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them. With this heartbreaking response from Colin, his mom decided to do something about it to lift his spirits.

So, Colin’s mom set up this Facebook page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words. And, it’s got quite the response! The page has since received over 1 million ‘likes’ (along with many sweet messages)! In fact, it’s received such a response that Colin’s mom is concerned he will find out about all of this (which was planned as a surprise until his birthday on March 9)!

So we invite everyone to send some birthday cheer to Colin on his page or even send him a card (his mom set up this PO Box for him):

Colin –  PO box 756, Richland, MI 49083-0756

But make sure to do it before March 9!!

We wish Colin a very happy birthday!!!

 

Lynsey, Community Manager

Go Team Kate

GoTeamKateIf you haven’t had the chance to read Go Team Kate’s latest blog post titled “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly” – we definitely encourage you to do so. It’s an open letter that blogger Shanelle Mouland wrote to the man that sat next to her and her daughter, Kate – who has autism – on a plane ride, and it beautifully recaps their journey and how this man was so great with Kate. As parents, we all know that traveling with children – particularly on planes – can be…well, let’s say…an unpleasant experience. So we can fully understand Shanelle’s concerns going into this ride and what her expectations may have been. Thanks to this man for exceeding her expectations – and making the ride for both Kate and Shanelle an enjoyable one. We hope everyone would take a page from your book.

Go Team Kate!!

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Tom Hanks & His #1 Fan

Love this video – although it was posted earlier this year, it is now just making the rounds – and we’re glad it did! Tom Hanks has a reputation for being one of the nicest stars in Hollywood, and this just makes the case even stronger. While starring on Broadway in “Lucky Guy” he invited Sarah Moretti, a young lady with autism, backstage after learning she was a huge fan. In fact, according to the YouTube post, Sarah saved all the things she could find about Tom Hanks over the years – and you can see him going through the binder with her. (The best part is watching the excited Sarah’s reaction in the mirror!) – check it out:

 

Lynsey, Community Manager

Prom Date

Prom Photo

I really love this story and wanted to share it with all of you (in case you haven’t seen it).  Nineteen-year-old Jon Larson, who has autism, was able to do something his parents never thought was a possibility – he attended his junior prom. His date for the evening was Maddi Colbeth, a fellow student at Clear Lake High in Wisconsin. Jon and Maddi met through a school club that, as noted in this article, encouraged friendships between disabled students and those without disabilities.

After Maddi joined the club she noticed that Jon was eating lunch alone and started eating with him–and they’ve had lunch together every day since. When it came time for Jon’s junior prom (Maddi is a senior), she asked Jon if he wanted to go and said, as that same article notes, “I knew he wouldn’t have gotten the chance if it wasn’t for me asking him, so I thought he deserved the chance to go. I thought he would enjoy that.”

And it seemed he did – they prepped in advance for the dance, even visiting the restaurant they would eat at ahead of time to get familiar with everything. At the prom, Jon danced and had a good time.

The friendship between these two teens is a wonderful thing to see, and I’m so glad Jon’s dad shared this story on Facebook. My hope is that more schools take on a similar club so others can benefit from such special bonds and experiences.

Lynsey, Community Manager