After rolling a strike, Paul Hoffman jumps and claps then runs to his mother for a high five.
“Dad is going to be so proud,” he says with a grin.
Paul, 25, and his sister Allie, 22, both have autism, and their family’s weekly bowling nights at Laser Alleys in Springettsbury Township are more than just a social outlet. They’re one of the many therapeutic programs offered by Easterseals Western and Central Pennsylvania that improves their social, physical, and emotional well-being, while giving their parents, Penney and Mike, a chance to connect with parents who understand.
“Autistic kids typically have a tough time, socially,” Penney says. “Easterseals activities help them: taking turns, playing, mimicking.”
There’s a network that Easterseals provides families, and the people Penney and Mike Hoffman have met through the various therapeutic programs have become part of their family.
“It’s a good support system,” Mike says. “The kids are doing the activities, but you get to talk to parents and families facing similar issues.”
Creating special moments
Outside of their weekly bowling activity, the Hoffmans have found the Easterseals’ camp empowers them to try things they would not have otherwise thought possible.
While attending Easterseals Annual Adaptive Watersports Clinic, Penney witnessed something she thought she’d never see: her daughter, water skiing.
“She has never liked any tight-fitting clothing, like a life vest,” Penney says.
But watching the other kids on the ski chair out in the water, Allie seemed ready to join them.
Those moments are what make Easterseals so special, Penney says.
“She loved it – singing to the music and swaying back and forth,” she says. “To see her so happy; it made me cry.”