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Overcoming a childhood diagnosis

Federal Way Mirror - 6/9/2018

Dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and selective mutism since he was 1½ years old made it hard for Timothy Dempsey to communicate.

But since the 29-year-old Federal Way resident started working at Wild Waves theme park in 2010, he has learned to communicate with others despite his diagnosis.

"If it wasn't for what Wild Waves has done for me, and Special Olympics at the same time, I wouldn't be able to talk today," he said.

Selective mutism, according to, is a childhood anxiety disorder where those affected cannot speak or communicate effectively in social settings such as schools.

After employees at Wild Waves started to coach him, Dempsey began getting better, and now talking to people is easy, he said.

Dempsey is an athlete speaker for Team Washington in this year's Special Olympic USA Games, which will take place July 1-6 at multiple locations in the Puget Sound region including Federal Way.

He also qualified for the first-ever Unified Gaming for Microsoft Games, which will take place on the University of Washington Seattle campus as a part of Special Olympics.

The Microsoft Unified Gaming Tournament took place at a Microsoft store in Bellevue, where Dempsey had to beat several other competitors in Forza Seven, a racing video game, to be able to represent Federal Way in the Special Olympic games.

After the tournament, Dempsey was paired with another athlete, Nicholas Rassmusen, said Tyler Bjork, assistant head of delegation for Team Washington. The pair had the highest scores in the tournament and will team up for the Microsoft games.

Bjork said he has been friends with Dempsey since they played unified softball together.

"We went to a national conference our second year knowing one another to learn about promoting unified sports and inclusive schools," he said.

After the event, he and Dempsey went to Federal Way high schools to promote the unified movement, Bjork said.

The Federal Way Farmers Market and the city of Federal Way will host the Rise With Us Rally at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 9, at the Commons Mall parking lot to showcase local athletes participating in the games, including Dempsey.

Admission and parking are free, Tim Johnson, Federal Way's economic development director, said.

Former Seattle Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux will serve as event emcee. Federal Way resident Audrey Collins will sing the national anthem and the band Lost and Found will provide entertainment. Several elected officials will be present to support the 20 Federal Way residents participating in the 2018 USA Games who have achieved selection on the State of Washington Team.

Bjork hopes this event and the Olympics will help bring communities together.

"The USA Games is a beacon, an opportunity for our community to hear the call of our athletes nation wide to join the Special Olympics movement and help us and our partners create a city of inclusion," he said.


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