REGION – Ben’s Buddies Social Group has been inspired by Beth Adams’ son Ben. He is a young teen with Autism. He and his family had difficulty going out, creating memories, and planning outings, as it seemed that nothing was Autism-friendly. His family worried that Ben’s sensory defensiveness and language issues would make it difficult for others to understand him, and those issues would make it impossible for Ben to understand the world and the environment. Years passed with one frustration after another by simply attempting experiences most other families enjoyed. As a result, Ben’s family spent the time creating “staycations” and developing activities in their own backyard.
After years of isolation Ben’s family has created a nonprofit group for individuals like Ben and their families. Ben’s Buddies Social Group is an encouraging, nurturing group with special needs in mind. Each activity and meet up is well planned so that each individual may engage in any way they can. Parents or caregivers have an opportunity to connect, and siblings have opportunities to connect with siblings like them.
Adams has heard over and over in her life that there is “safety in numbers.” Having a group that have similar experiences and needs builds a kind of safety net to participate in activities that in the past have seemed too challenging. “It’s liberating to have the confidence to have these experiences that other families may take for granted, like an overnight camping trip or a ride on a train. These are things we’ve wanted to experience as a family but it just seemed too daunting.”
Ben’s Buddies Social Group, located in southern Vermont and New Hampshire, is a fun and fulfilling outing group for individuals with special needs. There are no age requirements or cut offs. Ben’s Buddies Social Group offers exciting and engaging learning opportunities for individuals with special needs and their families. “We facilitate the establishment of social connections, vocational introductions, and independent living skills for all ages and abilities. As we grow we will also offer specific supports to the parents and siblings of Ben’s Buddies, such as transition planning workshops, sibling workshops, and IEP planning workshops.”
“Our hope is to provide life long passions to individuals with special needs by providing a wide variety of activities and meeting places. We know first hand how services are lacking when these individuals graduate high school, and we want them to develop passions, a purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.” Adams states, “Because we understand how challenging it is economically to raise children with special needs, and that often times they may be 30 years-old and still living in our homes, we provide these opportunities free of charge. We don’t want our buddies to be unable to participate in an event due to financial reasons. I’ve taken the whole month of June to concentrate on fundraising, as we have several meet ups that are only reserved and not yet fully paid for. We’ve been blessed with donations, but there’s still a lot of work to do for us to be the kind of group I envision.”
If you would like to make a donation, here are the ways you can contribute. PayPal @bensbuddiessocial. Checks made payable to Shirley Royce, Treasurer, BBSG, P.O. Box 109 Reading, VT 05062.
We are also having a silent auction at MacLomainns in Chester, Vt. July 21 at noon to provide these opportunities free of charge. There are door prizes, many auction items, and we are even raffling off two glider rides from the Hartness State Airport!