May 11, 2013

Walk-a-thon for Someone Special Needs You

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:33 am by autismmommytherapist

Easter 2013 005

Zach distracts me for a moment, clamoring for me to appreciate his Easter masterpiece. As I turn to give his creation its proper due I see a basket of eggs teeter precariously from its perch near Justin’s elbow, and I lunge to save them.

The fact that they’re not real seems to have escapted my primal instincts for the moment, and I have to laugh at myself.

I secure the errant basket in the middle of the table this time, and my eldest gives me a look as if to say “What’s your problem, Mom?”, a query to which I could give a variety of responses. Instead, I make a concerted effort to lower my heartrate while making sure to keep Justin’s curious hands away from the glue gun that’s apparently become very enticing to him.

It’s just another Friday night at Someone Special Needs You.

SSNY was founded by Vince Scanelli, a parent of an adult child with autism who wanted to provide his son with both a social outlet, and an activity-based evening that didn’t center solely on his family. One Friday night a month (except for January and the summer months) children and adults with a variety of disabilities gather behind the Colts Neck Reformed Church to partake in crafts and events, while simultaneously being assisted by neurotypical teenagers from the Colts Neck school district.

It’s a lovely program, an opportunity for individuals with special needs both to get out and to have a “friend” for an evening, and an equally important opportunity for a number of teen-agers to have a glimpse into the world of difference and disability.

A win-win for all.

I began bringing Justin, then later Zach, to SSNY six years ago, when Justin was only three, and Zach had not yet graced us with his presence. I still remember seeing the flyer in the depths of his backpack and being elated to discover what I felt would be a fun opportunity for my boy, one for whom many traditional childhood activities are decidedly not fun.

I knew he liked crafts, and loved activities like trick-or-treating, bouncy houses, and Easter egg hunts, so I figured this would be a great event for him. With a few rare exceptions (most notably the time my aunt and I had to carry him out to the car after a tantrum of such magnificent proportions I knew he’d set an all-time record), he’s enjoyed every minute there these last six years, as has his mom.

One of the best parts is, it’s also free.

SSNY is always looking for new families to participate, and I’m writing today in part to encourage any of you with special needs children to give it a try, and in part because the organization is holding its very first walk on June 1st  in Spring Lake.

The boardwalk will not be ready so we will be walking around the Spring Lake lake. The walk starts at 9:00 AM and ends at noon. Parking is available in the train station at Warren and Railroad Avenues, and the walk start point is at 5th Avenue and Warren (look for the blue tent).

In addition to offering a once a month alternative to a typical Friday night at home, Vince is also attempting to create a group home in central Jersey at Overbrook Farms in Colts Neck. The home is the inspiration for the walk.Vince will require a significant amount of funding to bring the establishment to life.

If he’s successful the group home will consist of ten beds for as many adults with disabilities, as well as the chance for said adults to participate in a working farm.

In many instances adults with disabilities have been marginalized in the workplace, and this farm would grant the opportunity for ten people to contribute to, and ultimately hopefully work with, members of the Colts Neck community. For many parents of children with special needs (this one included), a place to reside and a meaningful workplace would be dreams come true.

I know we are all besieged by requests to donate these days (I swear, I’m hit up at least a half dozen times a week between autism and the Girl Scouts), and I know money’s tight for us all. So, if you’d just prefer to come out and cheer on SSNY on June 1st, or give the evening activity a try, we’d love to see you.

I’ll leave you the website below, and if you care to join us in any fashion, we’d love your support. Thank you!  (forms for the walk are available here)

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