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Happy Valley man shares his journey in autism


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jonathon Chase plays his guitar at the White Eagle Saloon in North Portland.A Happy Valley man will share his story as part of a free “Autism: Transition to adulthood” forum in Oregon City this weekend.

Jonathon Chase will detail how he overcame growing up as a child with autism to become a professional musician and board member of the Autism Society of Oregon in a talk titled “Breaking Out of the Bubble: One Man’s Journey Through Adolescence With Asperger’s Syndrome.”

His lecture will run from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Providence Willamette Falls Community Center, 519 15th St.

Diagnosed fairly late at 14, Chase, 29, briefly attended Milwaukie High School but ended up getting his GED and going to a “boot camp” with Victor Wooton of the band Bella Fleck and the Flecktones, who would send him on blindfolded walks through the woods.

In continuing to manage the disease, he’s found that rather than right away trying to go out to dine, he suggests driving past the restaurant. His concept is that people with autism tend to shelter themselves and stick with what’s comfortable, so his presentation will encourage such baby steps outside of this bubble.

“Transition is one of the biggest struggles for people with autism,” he said. “Learning to be uncomfortable can really help you.”

An expert panel discussion, including Providence developmental pediatrician Fulgencio DelCastillo and Clackamas County social service worker Caryn Anderson, will join Chase from noon to 1 p.m. for questions and answers from the audience. A “Journey to Adulthood” resource fair will continue at the location until 3 p.m. to provide the public with opportunities to get information from agencies and service providers, including representatives from Clackamas County Developmental Disability Services, Northwest Autism Foundation, Jewish Family & Child Service, Autism Society of Oregon and Providence Child Center.

Register at providence.org/classes by clicking on the “online class catalog” tab and search by class name for “Swindells Autism Event - Willamette Falls.” To register by phone, call 503-215-2429. Limited child care is available; call for details.