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Riding to bring awareness to autism

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By Joan Chaisson

Special to the Gulf News

Plans are being made for a motorcycle ride Aug. 5, which is Port aux Basques’ civic holiday to celebrate Astrolabe Days. 
This ride is to bring awareness about autism and to raise money for the local AIM (Autism Involves Me) group. Brian Button is organizing this ride and he can be contacted through messenger on social media for more information.      
"Well, there are a couple reasons why I would like to do it.  I am so proud of my community and the work of the AIM group in making our community autism-friendly, not only for children and families with autism, but for visitors visiting our community," he said. 
"This group has brought so much awareness and helped educate us all on what autism really is and the many different spectrums with regards to it."
Button's godson, Will Billard, has autism, along with his sister, and he wanted to do this ride for them.
The ride will begin from the Bruce 11 Complex at 10 a.m., then journey up the Trans Canada Highway to Codroy Valley to meet more riders. Then they will travel back, stopping in Cape Ray, where more riders will join the group.  
The last leg of the journey will be a  trip to Rose Blanche returning back to the Scott’s Cove area in the afternoon to partake in the Astrolabe activities.
The registration cost for each bike will be $10. 
“Doing the ride helps us raise a little money to help provide items and educational tools for the group and families," Button said. "Also, we get to ride together which we love to do. This is just extra special since we would be doing it for a wonderful cause.”  
Button’s goal is to have 50 riders and he is hoping this will be the first of many rides to come. 
“I would like to make this an annual thing if we get the participation. The response so far has been great," said Button.

Sensory baskets
The AIM group is now involved in training and helping businesses in town to become autism-friendly. One of things it's hoped all businesses will have is a fidget sensory basket.  This basket contains small items, which a person can use to meet individual sensory challenges. For instance, there would be a small vehicle in the basket. The most important characteristic of this vehicle would be that the wheels can turn. The turning of the wheels is not important to move the car;  it is so the child can spin the tires over and over. Spinning the tires is a very calming activity for a child who is becoming overwhelmed in their environment.  
There would also be visual items where children can watch objects move in liquid and auditory items where the child can make noise by rubbing items or flapping hands on an object. The baskets also include sunglasses, earphones, crayons and paper, and textured clay.
The AIM group donates the first basket to the businesses and then the owners/managers are expected to replace any items which are lost or misplaced. Each basket costs between $20 to $30, so, in reality, this ride will be very beneficial to many citizens of the town. 
So far, there are sensory baskets in at least nine businesses plus all fire trucks in Port aux Basques.
People can give donations to any of the riders beforehand or on the day of the ride. There will also be a prize given to the driver who collects the most donations.
For more information, Button can be contacted through messenger on social media.

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