Knox Grad Helps Autistic Young Adults

From: Wired (San Francisco, CA)

A Wired magazine feature in July reports on work by Knox College alumnus Ray Burke ’77, in a story headlined “Air-Pumped Mascot Costumes Turn Autistic Kids Into Outgoing Entertainers.” The extended feature reports that Burke, a former executive with Father Flanagan’s Boys Home in Nebraska, teamed up with Lee Bowen, who markets inflatable costumes for use as sports mascots, and in retail promotion and performances, including a Broadway show.

After recruiting autistic young adults to work in the costumes, Burke and the Bowen discovered they could perform successfully — doing things they “would never do without the [inflatable costume] on—like responding directly to questions… reacting to the audience, and initiating independent actions without being cued…” A psychology major at Knox, Burke is currently vice president of research, evaluation and program development of Behaven Kids, in Omaha, Nebraska, which helps children with behavior disorders. Read more…