Learning life skills for autism awareness
Autistic entrepreneur Chris Hall returns for Autism Awareness Weekend
Carver Reporter - 5/4/2018
Every year, Chris Hall rides his tricycle 30.5 miles from Quincy to Carver to be first in line at the gate for opening day at Edaville Family Theme Park. Throughout the year he's on a mission to help children with autism and other disabilities.
As founder of Computers for the Autistic Foundation, Hall takes donated computers and refurbishes them on both the North and South Shore of Boston, and with the assistance of his high school intern, Tori Dolby, and her passion for fixing computers, also in the Providence, Rhode Island, area.
He believes that young people with autism and other disabilities should be open about their abilities and not hide behind the scenes. By taking Dolby on as an intern, he feels he's helping her learn sales, marketing and life skills that will enable her to be social and prepare to be her own boss as an autistic entrepreneur like him.
"It's not just about building computers and giving them to children, it's about pushing the limits for children who have limited social skills, limited abilities to socialize with the outside, because unfortunately in postgraduate programs they limit what people can do," he said.
As a rail fan, Hall has been riding to Carver since Thomas Land opened and made friends. He started his own company five years ago. Saturday, he was back at Edaville on Autism Awareness Weekend for another annual appearance.
After fixing computers for other people and not making money, he decided to switch to his own demographic and help children with their education and social skills to prepare them for better lives as young adults with his independent work-at-home organization. By taking Dolby on as an intern, he's helping her learn the skills to be her own boss.
"I wanted to start it because employment for people with disabilities is hard," he said. "Companies are very discriminative towards people with disabilities, unfortunately. As much as the ADA mandates that there should be no discrimination, companies still do discriminate."
Local race car driver Josh Parsons returned for the second year. He's sponsored by Edaville and likes to give back to the community, so for the second year he returned for Autism Weekend to open up the doors of his car to children with autism and anyone who wanted to sit inside.
"I've always been around autistic children, and I know that most of them can't make it to the racetrack because it's so loud, so why not give back somewhere quiet," he said.
Parsons wrapped up his season strong, finishing sixth in points after starting off with some bad luck, winning in his spare car and then returning to his first car and taking two seconds and a third before a wreck knocked him out of fifth place.
The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department was all in for the weekend for the third year in support of autism awareness. The department was well represented, with everyone happy to be there and able to give back to the community.
There was fingerprinting for children as well as identification cards for adults, the mobile command post, K9 demonstrations, deputies on horseback, the antique sheriff's car, and T-shirts for everyone in the park.
With many children with autism having an aversion to loud noises, Sheriff's Department Lt. Jim Creed introduced friendly drug dog Boing, a 7-year-old border terrier, and his patrol dog, Heath, a 2-year-old German shepherd.
Capt. Scott Billings,, in one of the mobile command posts used to respond to requests from local communities to support their services, was on hand to give a tour and explain how various departments work together to respond to incidents on scene.
It's a regional resource that may be called on to support other public safety agencies, he said, happily handing out badges to children and explaining his role as radio coordinator in building partnerships.
"It's a real good relationship we have with the 27 communities in Plymouth County, and we work with our neighboring partners from other sheriff's departments," he said. "As you can see here, it's so much that we have to offer."
Follow Kathryn Gallerani on Twitter @kgallreporter.