Josh is 23 years old, was born on the Autism Spectrum and has been coming to PARDS since 2009. He began as a young rider in lessons and participated in the Para Equestrian Video Competition during that time. By 2016 Josh grew to a strapping, 6 foot tall young man and transitioned to participating in PARDS' cart driving program. The cart program provided Josh the opportunity to continue participating in PARDS programs which his mother Donna says has been a huge part of Josh's life and will remain so as long as PARDS is here. Josh is non verbal but has a few key words she shares, one of which being "horse" which speaks volumes to the important role his relationship with his horse means to him. A few years back Josh had a seizure which is a contraindication to both riding and driving; once again, PARDS adapted to meet the needs of the participant by creating a ground driving program still utilizing all the skills learned in the driving program without the safety concerns due to the seizure disorder and Josh was able to continue coming to PARDS and participating in PARDS life-enhancing programs. This keeps Josh engaged with the horses, an opportunity to socialize with staff and the physical activity he has come to rely on from PARDS.
Josh enjoys painting; activities incorporating colour matching and allowing him to draw on a white board with different colours to check off the lesson activites keeps him engaged and focused. Although Josh's expressive language is limited, his receptive language is very well developed. His lessons utilize directions and options such as "would you like to ride inside or outside", "which colour marker would you like to use", rather than questions only involving yes or no answers. Josh prefers to ride outside even if it's raining, the sights, sounds and smells engage all of the senses which enriches his experience. Repetition is key when providing Josh with instructions as he thrives on consistency. Josh has learned some key words such as "foot" for when he is getting his horse to lift the hoof to be picked, which is the activity that Josh begins each of his lessons with. The routine that is followed each lesson gives Josh a sense of what is expected and this allows him to go into each lessons with as much ease as possible and sets him up to be successful each week.
Josh takes time each week and comes to PARDS as a volunteer as well to take care of our paper recycling and helps with shredding. He thrives on the routine of coming around to each office and collecting the recycle bins, shredding the papers, bags, and sweeps up before taking the recycling out. Josh is a huge help when he comes and all of the staff look forward to his weekly visit and ensure they have something in their bin ready for him.
Josh's personality is calm and he shares his impish grin that can be seen when he sets his mind to something fun. It's unclear who learns more when Josh comes to PARDS - Josh, or the staff that get to interact with him. Josh's continued participation in PARDS programs, has led to development and adaptation of many programs that are beneficial to other people in the Peace Country. We can't wait to see what he teaches us next!