October 27, 2011
Halloweenfest and More…
My son takes my hand, clenching and unclenching it tightly as he usually does when he’s excited. We walk together through an exquisitely constructed archway of flowers adorning an equally lovely path, and a witch runs right in front of us, followed closely by a goblin in hot pursuit. They are gone in a flash, and my boy doesn’t even flinch, because he’s dealt with these supernatural beings before, and knows these particular spirits of the netherworld are harmless. The path finally ends, and before us looms a large field sporting a haunted hayride, pumpkins for painting, an inflatable fire truck slide, and hot dogs and popcorn for all.
My boy takes it all in and grins, because he knows it’s that time of year again. It’s the annual SEPTA (Brick Special Education PTA’s) Halloweenfest, and everybody is in for a good time.
This year, my son Justin, an eight-year-old boy with moderate autism, is delighted by the sights and sounds around him, far more eager to participate than he has been in the past. We’ve been coming to this event for years, and there have been times when we haven’t even made it through the first line while he waited for his turn in the bouncy house. I’ve also learned to get there early, and this year we only endure a slight wait for each piece of equipment, Justin standing calmly at my side as he now knows the drill.
In rapid succession he masters the fire truck and a maze I’m not certain his mother could have conquered, and congenially walks with me to the center of all the action. Pumpkin painting is not to his liking, but popcorn does the trick instead. He stands by my side patiently as his social mom actually carries off three consecutive conversations without having to chase him, and as I glance down at my sweet boy quietly munching kernels with gusto, I feel a wave of gratitude sweep over me.
All in all, we stay over forty minutes, compared to our not-quite-ten of last year. It is a banner day for us both.
I’ve been attending meetings and supporting the Brick SEPTA for the last four years, and as such I’ve been privy to watching the organization grow and evolve. SEPTA was originally formed in 2004 to address the often unique needs of the special education population. It is comprised of parents, teachers, and members of the community who have come together to provide a forum of support for the children of this school district, and for each other as well. It meets nine times a year, and has created an atmosphere of true collaboration which has led to some fabulous events for children (see below). It has also provided a number of inspiring speakers, all of whom have dispensed incredibly valuable information to our group.
Plus, they always have donuts. It’s a big selling point for me.
This year in particular, president Mary Tara Wurmser, as well as officers Dina Crepaldi, Vinnie Muti, Janet Bixenman, Nicole Barresi, and Sherry Doyle, have combined forces once again to organize some creative fundraisers, wonderful events, and interesting speakers. Two of my favorites (I can’t pick, I love hamburgers and bargains in equal measure) will be held in the near future in Brick at Cheeburger Cheeburger on October 27th, and Five Below from October 27-31.
They are also working with the BMAC (Brick Municipal Alliance Committee) on a holiday event in December that’s a favorite for our kids (and involves a certain “jolly someone”), and a family bowling night solely through SEPTA as well. They will be highlighting speakers on such pertinent topics as transitioning to adult life and learning differently with ADHD, and offering a technology and social skills night as well (due to my technological illiteracy, the former subject will be of great interest to me).
In other words, if you join Brick SEPTA, at least once a month you can be guaranteed an opportunity to learn something, speak with other adults without interruption(!), and have the chance to consume a carb. It’s a win-win for all.
You can check on the Brick SEPTA website for all future events and meetings, with the next gathering taking place on Monday, November 14th, at the Educational Enrichment Center at 7:00 PM. Please know that all are welcome to attend, and I can guarantee the word welcome.
Just make sure you save room for that donut.