Philadelphia— A woman who made tremendous efforts just to help families and their children with autism have fun has made it to the top 10 of the prestigious CNN Heroes.
Dr. Wendy Ross, the founder of Autism Inclusion Resources which started in 2007, recognized that children on the autism spectrum like baseball as much as any other children. But she also realized that there are a number of factors why taking children with autism to a baseball game can be an enormous challenge for their families. She told:
“For various reasons, either the impact of new sensory information, not knowing what is expected in a new environment or not having the language to express themselves, children with autism can be more likely to have extreme reactions.”
So she set out a plan to help them overcome those difficulties. In 2012, Dr. Ross started a partnership with the Phillies to make watching baseball games an enjoyable experience for children with autism as well as their families.
Dr. Ross and the Phillies team went into great lengths to achieve just that, educating some 3,000 Phillies employees, from supervisors to vendors, on dealing with children on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Ross took hundreds of pictures along with her photographer during a game to help parents set their kids’ expectations on what the game will be like. She even organized for the families to watch college baseball tournaments which had a smaller crowd, to get the children familiar with what it’ll be like to watch the Phillies game– which rake in crowds by the thousands each game.
According to Dr. Ross,
“If you start taking steps outside of your door, your world gets bigger and bigger. We just want people to have opportunities.”
Today, Autism Inclusion Resources not only help families go out and have fun, the organization also helps them overcome challenging situations in outdoor activities such as airport travel, museum tours, and watching sport events.
Dr. Ross believes that helping children with autism is not enough. She wants to go one step further and help them feel accepted by the communities. According to her,
“It’s not enough to work with a child with autism, because we need the community to accept them. You would never show someone how to use a wheelchair and then not have a ramp.”
Ever since Dr. Ross started her extraordinary charity work about four years ago, around 200 families have already benefited from her organization’s initiatives.
Voting for CNN Heroes is still open until Nov. 16. Voters may cast their ballots at cnnheroes.com
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta