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Cultural Round-Up: Basketball, Board Races, Meet-Ups, and Apps 2.0

One of the most exciting and encouraging things about digging through the many local stories from around the country looking at how communities and families are dealing with autism, is the never-ending forms that autism activism and advocacy can take.

For example, in Scranton, PA, two rival high school basketball teams are using the cause of raising money for the Northeast Regional Autism Center at Friendship House to get their fans and the city of Scranton fired up about autism research and support. So far, close to fifteen teams have signed up for the event, with organizers hoping to raise upwards of $1,000 for the Regional Autism Center, which offers treatment and respite care for those living with autism.

“It’s for a fantastic cause. The autism center is a great thing to be involved in, and it’s a fun event,” said second-year medical student Peter Cognetti of Waverly Twp., the tournament’s organizer.

Continuing on the sports theme, Ed Naggier of Bay County Florida is looking to raise money and awareness for FSU Panama City’s Autism Program by holding one extremely demanding race through the waters of Bay County. Some might be wondering what a 30-mile paddle board race has to do with raising a child with autism. But according to Naggiar, both can be extremely difficult, “It takes resilience to do [board racing] and it takes resilience to raise a child with autism.”

Up next, taking a look at another small, but important community event in Tucson, a group of young adults with autism have started to meet weekly in order to try and develop their communication skills, including nonverbal communication, conversational skills, healthy relationships, and problem solving techniques.

“They often come to the group to be more social and better communicators,” said Kalei Harmon, a speech language pathologist, who leads the group. “We talk about things that are inappropriate [versus] appropriate, or expected or unexpected to say in a conversation. A lot of that comes naturally to most people and some people might struggle with that.”

All of the group’s members struggle with talking in social situations, but say, since coming to the group, it has improved their professional and personal life.

Finally, in a follow-up to our story last week looking at Eashana Subramanian, who developed an app called AutBuddy at the age of eleven years-old to help her sister better organize her day and follow a routine, the Rocky Hill Middle Schooler and her teams have gone on to be named one of the eight Best in Nation winners of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. While the team also wins a $20,000 grant, perhaps what’s most exciting is that they get to retain ownership over their work, helping put them on the path of working in tech.