It is the acceptance of our community that has given Micah Hobson a feeling of normalcy.
Micah, 10, a fourth-grader at Davidson Elementary School, was diagnosed with autism only three years ago.
His mother, Elizabeth, knew by the time he was 15 months old that he was different from other children.
But it took nearly seven years to diagnose Micah's behavior, and people were not always accepting.
"A simple trip to the grocery store was the worst" recalls Hobson. "Micah would get a running start and slide his way down the aisle as if he was sliding into home base, jump up screaming and then start banging his head on things."
Shoppers would provide dirty looks and were free with their comments and suggestions regarding Micah's need for discipline.
Hobson struggled to find a way to become a positive advocate for Micah. Then she met Robin Kruise.
"Robin and I had boys, both with special needs, in kindergarten together," said Hobson. "At a birthday party, we started talking about the struggles and challenges we were facing as parents of special-needs children and found that we had many similar hurdles to overcome."
Hobson, Kruise and others turned toward the community for help and were accepted with open arms.
Davidson Elementary School's PTA formed the PTA-TOO, which stands for Together Overcoming Obstacles, an organization like the PTA that provides services for exceptional children. Services include one-on-one tutoring, an EC Technology Club, parent outings, support groups and fundraisers.
Davidson College students started a Buddy Club, which allows parents a little time off while the students spend time with the children.
BounceU offers their facilities free of charge and hosts play dates for the children.
The Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics in conjunction with Huntersville Therapeutic Parks & Recreation, Best Buy, Coca-Cola and other local and national corporations sponsor an annual 5K fundraiser.
On March 6, the second annual "Run Too Overcome 5K Run/Walk" will begin at 8 a.m. at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, located at 11725 Verhoeff Drive, Huntersville. The race-day registration fee is $30 for the 5K Run/Walk , $20 for the Kids Race, a $20 donation for shirts and $20 for CMS Staff.
Proceeds benefit exceptional children's programs at many North Learning Community Schools. An exceptional child is a child with any disability, disorder, delay, behavior, attention, sensory problem or any other issue hindering their learning.
Hobson's face lights up as she brags that Micah is now on the A-B Honor roll, a goalie for his soccer team, making friends and has mastered the art of text messaging.
"The support and acceptance that I now receive from the community allows me to be able to focus on Micah and overcoming his challenges," Hobson said.
He now believes that all is normal in his world.