July 2nd, 2006, 18 year old Alex Bain will leave North Cape in a bid to
be the first autistic to run Prince Edward Island tip to tip. Along the
way, he hopes to raise $20/km for his almost 300 kilometre trek that will
end in East Point on July 15th. The funds will be used to bring internationally
recognized expert Dennis Debbaudt to PEI on September 27 2006, for a series of 3
seminars about what happens and what should happen in encounters between
autistics, emergency first-responders and law-enforcement officers.
Almost every weekend,
for most of the year, Alex puts on this trademark yellow t-shirt, heads
to a charitable road race on the Island. He runs not only for the charity
benefitting from each race, but also for autism. Not to raise money to
find a "cure" or to "prevent" people like himself from ever being born,
the focus of most autism runs, but to raise awareness and acceptance. His
recognition as the PEI RoadRunners 2004 Patterson Palmer Rookie of the
Year and 2005 Ewen Stewart Inspirational Runner of the Year reflects both
his running and advocacy abilities.
on her bike, and organizing Mr Debbaudt's PEI seminar, is Alex's mother,
janet norman-bain, known as "jypsy" to many in the autistic community both
locally and internationally through a website she ran from 1995-2005, "Ooops...Wrong
Planet! Syndrome" at PlanetAutism.com. jypsy and another of her four children
are diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, an autistic spectrum diagnosis.
jypsy watched Alex start grade 1 unable to speak and graduate from Bluefield
High School twelve years later with honours and prizes for top marks in
two of his classes. This July she'll be there to see him fulfill his dream
to be the first autistic to run PEI tip to tip and help fundraise to make
PEI a safer, more inclusive community for all autistic people.
Studies show that
autistic people are no more likely to break the law than non-autistic people,
but are 7 times more likely to come into contact with law enforcement officers.
Dennis Debbaudt, a professional investigator, journalist and a member of
the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET), is the father
of a 21-year-old autistic son. He has educated law enforcement, criminal
justice, and education professionals, as well as first-responders, autistics,
and parents throughout Canada, the US, and the UK but has yet to present
in the Maritimes.
The response of autistic
people to encounters with emergency first responders may not always be
socially expected or behaviourally typical. Mr. Debbaudt will explain how
autistic reactions in some situations, such as running away, unsteadiness,
apparently unpredictable or impulsive behaviour, or failure to respond
in the expected way, may be misunderstood by first response professionals,
resulting in serious consequences. Mr. Debbaudt's law enforcement and first
responder seminars offer tips and options for communications and responses
designed to successfully resolve a call involving a person on the autistic
spectrum, while his seminar for autistics, parents, caregivers, school
personnel and other people, will address the many ways that parents can
keep their child secure and safe both in the home and in the community
and how autistics can increase their own safety and security. Everyone
will come away with a good, practical understanding of the best approaches
to make interactions with autistics more informed, safer and less stressful
for all involved.
Autism is a neurological
difference classified as a developmental disability. Autistic people have
atypical behaviours in three areas: social interaction, communication,
and restricted interests or repetitive behaviours. Autistics are different
at the most basic level available: how they experience the world, and how
they learn from it. Autism presents with measurable differences in perception,
attention, memory, intelligence, etc. The autistic order and progress of
development is different from the typical version as is autistic brain
structure, allocation, and function. Autism presents strengths not available
to the typical population, but the different pattern of strengths and weaknesses
characterizing autism results in many difficulties as atypical needs and
adaptive but atypical autistic behaviours are at odds with what is considered
or expected as "normal".
The PEI Council of
the Disabled is assisting PlanetAutism.com in this fundraiser and will
be handling the donations. Charitable donations can be made to the "PEI
Council of the Disabled" (Runman Fund) by mail or at any Credit Union across
PEI. Online donations can be made on the Run's website, http://www.PlanetAutism.com/runman
where much more information about the Run can be found including the daily
schedule and a blog where you can follow the Run day by day.