United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile is happy to present the #UCPSpotlight Series. Each month we will be featuring clients, staff, board members, volunteers and programs! There are no shortage of incredible stories from our organization and we are proud to share some of them with you.
Ginny McKinley is a familiar face for many people acquainted with United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile. Ginny is UCP’s resident “T-Shirt Expert ” and runs United Cerebral Palsy’s Casual Day Program, one of UCP’s largest fundraising efforts. “Casual Day is a t-shirt fundraiser throughout the city that helps to fund programs for individuals with disabilities from birth through adulthood. Offices collect orders from their employees and allow them to have a “casual day” where they wear their casual day shirt to work to show support of United Cerebral Palsy and their mission of Life Without Limits,” says Ginny of her program.
Ginny has been an employee of UCP’s for over 6 years, but her involvement with the organization goes back more than 25 years, when her son Seth entered UCP’s Preschool Program at the age of three. When asked about Seth’s diagnosis, Ginny said, “Seth was diagnosed at the age of two-and-a-half with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) which is now classified as Autism.”
Prior to attending UCP Preschool, Seth had attended Easter Seals Play Therapy. It was here that he was referred to UCP’s Preschool at the age of three. When Seth attended Preschool, his autism made it difficult for him to sit still during classroom circle time. “Keri Drew was his teacher and used a little red car as his chair,” Ginny mentions of Preschool’s solution to this problem. In addition to attending preschool, Seth received Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and as an adult attended the Adult Day Program.
The way that Autism is experienced by the individual is as unique as the person with the diagnosis. Seth happens to be nonverbal, but he began communicating through typing at the age of 13 and later began writing to express himself. When asked about what his disability means for him and his life, Seth writes, “My disability is difficult to sum up. My inability to talk hinders my entire life. People don’t understand that I am intelligent and I am not the person they perceive me to be. Autism is a life that affects the entire family. Nothing is typical.” For Seth, some of his greatest challenges manifest in the way that he sees his Autism. “Autism is a monumental disorder, we seem lost but we are just trapped like fog in the morning, trapped between places, mist and water. Autism is like that, trapped between what we are and what we are supposed to be.” Seth says. As for things he enjoys, “My favorite things are all things Disney, Disney World, Disney movies, Disney books, Disney music. I love movies but mostly animated ones,” Seth said.
For UCP, the story of Seth and Ginny is one that is encountered a lot – the introduction to one of our programs that begins a lifelong relationship between UCP and an individual person. “Ever since Seth was in preschool at age 3, I have wanted to work for UCP. As an organization, UCP makes such a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and I wanted to be a part of that in any capacity,” said Ginny. As for Seth, “I am proud to be a part of my Mom’s homework.”
Thank you, Ginny and Seth, for so bravely opening up to us about your story. The experiences of those with Autism and their families can be difficult, but we know your story helps those with similar experiences in knowing they are not alone. Given that April is Autism Awareness Month, we encourage readers to seek out more resources of individuals with Autism talking about their experiences.
Please look forward to more features like this each month. And to make sure you don’t miss out on next month’s #UCPSpotlight, sign up for our newsletter HERE. If you or a family member would like to share your experience with our organization, please contact us at 251-479-4900.