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Annual Autism Bowl held at Chacko's in Wilkes-Barre

The Citizens' Voice - 1/13/2020

Jan. 13--WILKES-BARRE -- Someone with autism was bowling on all 40 lanes of Chacko's Family Bowling Center in Wilkes-Barre for most of Sunday morning and afternoon.

Allied Services hosted its annual Autism Bowl outreach event that brings together those with autism and their families for a free day of fun and friendship.

"The kids are having fun. They forget everything else," said Dolphus Teart of Wilkes-Barre, whose 29-year-old son has autism and participated in the event.

Years ago, Teart helped organize Allied's Parents and Professionals group that plans the autism-related events, such as the bowling day. He founded the group with Julie Miller Holbrook, a speech therapist at Allied who frequently interacts with those with autism.

"I know how important socialization is for families," Teart said.

Sunday's event marked the 15th annual bowling gettogether. About 400 people participated throughout the day.

"We have the whole facility," Holbrook said.

Having all lanes available to those with autism helps families feel less pressure about bringing their loved ones in public -- since everyone on hand is used to issues that could arise with those with autism, Holbrook said.

"You don't have to worry if your child is throwing a tantrum," she said.

The annual bowling event is funded by Allied's annual Autism Golf Classic held at the Huntsville Golf Club in Lehman Twp.

Nicholas and Teresa LaFata, former Wilkes-Barre residents who now live in Dalton, brought their son Mario and several of his siblings to the event.

Mario, 5, has autism and Down syndrome.

"When you have a child with special needs, it's tough to get out sometimes. Here, no one has to worry about being embarrassed. It's a lot of fun," Nicholas LaFata said. "Things like this get people to come out and have fun. That's the beauty of it."

Contact the writer:

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055; @cvbobkal

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