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3 TTF Kiddos Showing Some MTX Heart

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“Sportsmanship is when you walk off the floor and no one can tell if you won or lost, you carry yourself with pride either way.” This is the quote that first greets you when you visit the website for MTX Cheerleading. MTX stands for Manheim Township Competition and for the last few years this wonderful group has had a cheer squad made entirely of special needs individuals. Their mission reads: “Our mission is to give girls the opportunity to cheer at a competitive level while building their self esteem, honesty and integrity. We also encourage girls to work toward a goal of reaching their full potential as an individual and team; not only in cheerleading, but in all aspects of their lives.”

Interestingly enough The Tommy Foundation is proud to have 3 of its kiddos involved with this group and not all of them are girls. One is the very first boy on the squad, Cameron. Cameron’s mom, Val said that her inspiration to get Cameron involved with this group first came to her from observing his interests and motivations and thinking that perhaps this would be a good way to get him to be a part of a team! “My son Cameron has high functioning autism. He is 8 years old. He loves to dance and recite movie and TV show characters. When we would go football games Cam would get worked up but really focus on the cheerleaders. So when I heard about this special-needs, cheer-squad called MTX I was like hmmm wonder if Cam would like this. Well he loves it. There has been so many challenges we have overcome or its gotten easier for him because of this. He feels like part of a team and loves his couches too.”

Like the wonderful, precocious little dude he is, when asked what he likes about cheering Cam simply says “I like being ‘THE MAN’ when I cheer.”

Two of our other kiddos involved in the program, who have been involved for the last few years are Jennifer and Madison. Jennifer likes MTX Cheerleading because of the opportunities it has given her socially to make friends. She states that, “I love cheerleading. I make great friends and I like the music and dancing.” Her younger sister Madison likes the feeling of accomplishment she gets from the program. “I love being a part of a wonderful team because they all get to be special and do their own little parts which combine together to make up the team!”

MTX Heart has been a wonderful addition to programs and services provided in our local community to give our children a sense of pride, accomplishment and inclusion. For more information you can visit their website at:

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Happy Holidays From the Tommy Foundation

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The Original and First Providers of Sensitive Santa

The Tommy Foundation, Lancaster County Chapter, 4th Annual

We wanted to say some special thanks for those that participated in our December main event—Sensitive Santa. For Lancaster, this was our 4th year doing this particular event and it couldn’t have gone better. We had to make some changes to make it a truly, sensory and enjoyable experience for families that needed it and everyone kept stating how much they loved the opportunity to have Santa to themselves for 15 minutes and without a lot of the commotion normally associated with a larger venue.

Special thanks to The Shank and Herbster families for everything you did to put this day together from finding Santa to volunteering as a Santa’s helper, baking cookies,decorating and more. Thank you to Scott Bledsoe of Ryan’s Hope Imagery and Tyler Strausbaugh of Tyler Strausbaugh Visuals for your time and talent with taking the pictures. Thank you to Julia Kelman and The Students for Autism Club at Franklin and Marshall College as well as the Asian Cultural Society for setting up an afternoon of fun for your buddies so they could enjoy some crafts and activities since we did have the change in venue that couldn’t really accommodate this aspect that so many of them did love. Immense thanks to “Toys for Tots” for giving us presents again for our families. As always this adds a very special touch for our families and brightens up the kids holidays. Finally thank you to Susan Luu, Kim Shank and Rich Everts for helping with baking all the cookies for both Sensitive Santa dates and the Buddy session.

This year we had a special day dedicated to families that had some more need for extra special holiday cheer so we had a separate ice cream social right before Thanksgiving that included food items for those that requested it as well as pajamas and books from long-time partner Alyssa’s Bedtime Stories.

The Tommy Foundation, NYC Chapter, 3rd Annual

We wish to thank the families and volunteers that made the 3rd Annual Sensitive Santa Event in the city so special. Thank you to:

President, Kat Harrison and her loving family for all you do for the community and your tireless efforts to help bring joy to others during the Holidays. We couldn’t put on an event like this without a location so thank you to Church of The Resurrection for allowing us to use your space for the event. Our long time volunteers and the new who give so much of their time and energy have a special place in our hearts–Yveline, Carlyn, Elena, Rito, David, Cassandre, Jean, Antonella, Leslie. Thank you Sheilah for taking the time out of your day to take the pictures for the families. Thank you to Melody of Autism for providing us with extra hands to work directly with the children to keep them entertained and imbued with the Holiday spirit. Bielka of Cruz ‘N Fun, thank you for your wonderful face painting and balloon twisting. Finally, there would be no Santa event without Kris Kringle himself and some presents so many thanks to Santa Joe and Maria Alfonso for your time and the gifts for the children.

Lastly, we recently had some special events and we wanted to thank the moms and dads that attended our first ever Holiday Gift Exchange for moms at TGI-Fridays and the dad’s day out at Slick Willie’s Indoor Carting.

Happy Holidays and thanks everyone for a wonderful 2014!


US of Autism Families in the News

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Sam WesselsThings have been progressing beyond our expectations with the theatrical release of The United States of Autism film.  We had projected that we would screen the film in about 40 cities and we are well on our way to 60 already! Many of the 20 families and individuals whose views are reflected in the film have been really involved getting the word out about their participation in the project as well as sharing with the world, how living with autism has affected their lives.  To that end, we wanted to share some of the major news pieces that have appeared in the last few 2 months that include 2 stories in major National Media networks.  Continue reading →

Giving Siblings the Attention They Need

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reillysLinda Reilly is a proud Army wife and part of OAR’s RUN FOR AUTISM team. She has run several races with OAR, including the Philadelphia Marathon. Her husband, Major Shane Reilly, and their two children, Charlotte, 8, and Alexander, 5, have also participated in the RUN FOR AUTISM. Alexander is on the autism spectrum. The family lives in Carlisle, Pa.

When my son, Alexander, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, my husband, Shane, and I knew things would be different with our family. We had to dedicate our time to helping him overcome this new challenge while still giving his older sister, Charlotte, the attention and support that she needed.

Many families who are raising a child with special needs with typically developing siblings face this dilemma. Together, our family discovered several ways to make both our kids feels special. I hope these suggestions will help you too.  Continue reading →