Autism Speaks Grantee Recipient Story: SoCal Adaptive Sports

Autism Speaks supports community programs that provide people with autism with fulfilling social and educational experiences through the Autism Speaks Local Impact Grant program

SoCal Adaptive Sports, a recipient of our Local Impact Grant, shared their story:

A family of four watches a performance in an arts center

"I wanted to express our gratitude for sponsoring the group tickets for "Riverdance" show, which the group including Som and his family, had the pleasure of attending. Despite Som's severe autism and limited verbal communication skills, it was evident from his behavior during the show that he thoroughly enjoyed it. Som was engaged throughout the performance, displaying visible signs of enjoyment such as clapping his hands, moving his body with the music, and maintaining his gaze on the performers. He clapped with the auditorium audience, even said "bravo" after each performance and more importantly not once did he say, "Let's go home now!" The combination of music, dance, and colorful stagecraft had a positive impact on him, and we are thrilled that he was able to experience such an enriching event in a formal environment.

It is often challenging for individuals with severe autism to participate in formal events without the necessary support. So thanks to you for organizing this, Som was able to enjoy the show with his family. His reaction to the show speaks volumes about the power of the arts to engage and inspire individuals with autism, and we are grateful for the opportunity that you provided.

We appreciate the work that organizations like yours do to promote inclusion and provide enriching experiences for individuals with autism. We know how far the society has some from the early days of Som’s diagnosis when hardly anyone had heard of the disorder. However, society has a long way to go towards understanding individuals with severe autism. The first step to inclusion for individuals with severe autism is understanding that their autism is unique; it is individual; that no two autistics are alike. Simple yet memorable moments, such as school gatherings or sibling performances, awards, and graduations, are common and cornerstone experiences for every American family. However, families with severely autistic members often miss out on these events because many of them are not designed with the needs of individuals with severe autism in mind. Even sitting next to an unknown person can add to the anxiety of these individuals and the presence of their family is often necessary to fully support their participation.

A group stands in front of a painted mural with palm trees

Thanks to your organizing this event, "Riverdance" is now an experience and not an item on the bucket list! We thank you for your support in enabling Som to have this enriching experience with his supports." -Som's family 

Learn more about SoCal Adaptive Sports. 

Learn more about Autism Speak’s Grant Program.

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