CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Dr. Wendy Ross is opening new worlds to autistic children and their families. Her nonprofit, Autism Inclusion Resources, has helped hundreds of families navigate challenging social situations such as sporting events, museum visits and airport travel.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Ross, far right, partnered with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 to develop a program through which game-day employees learn about autism and how to interact with individuals on the spectrum so that families feel supported during baseball game outings.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Ross, a developmental pediatrician, was heartbroken to hear that many parents of children on the autism spectrum were skipping social situations out of fear.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Building on her success with the Phillies, Ross is now working with Philadelphia's football and hockey teams. Soon she wants to partner with the city's public transportation agency ."The hope for Philadelphia is to make it the most autism-friendly city in the country," she said.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Ross helps prepare families for Phillies games by providing booklets illustrating each step of the game. She also escorts families to their first game, and each family is paired with a clinician should additional support be required.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Game tickets are donated to the families by the Phillies.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – "It's not enough to work with a child with autism, because we need the community to accept them," Ross said. "You would never show someone how to use a wheelchair and then not have a ramp."
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Ross hopes that families will become inspired to attend games on their own and explore other public settings as well. "If kids are not in the community, building their skills from very young ages, then there's no reason to expect them to be independent one day," she said.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – Since 2010, more than 200 families have benefited from Ross' initiatives.
CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross – "If you start taking steps outside of your door, your world gets bigger and bigger," Ross said. "We just want people to have opportunities."