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Access granted

People with disabilities allowed free access to town parks and facilities

Buddy and Trish Washburn

Buddy and Trish Washburn Alyssa Jung

— It took five years of letter writing and standing up to speak at Town Board meetings, but on April 5, a resolution was finally passed that makes Access Pass acceptable at all town parks.

“Save your letter and put it in your scrapbook,” said Supervisor Paula Mahan to Buddy, “because you helped pass a law.”

Now, Buddy can swim at the park until he turns into a fish. He can take walks in the woods and have picnics in the pavilions. He said his help in passing the law is important because “people that have autism or disabilities can go to the park more often and have more fun and live more.”

One of those people is his 9-year-old sister, CJ. She hasn’t been officially diagnosed, but Washburn said she’s convinced she belongs somewhere on the autism spectrum.

“She does things like walk on her toes, has trouble controlling her emotions so her frustration tolerance is low … things she did when she was little that the only reason I took notice is because of Buddy,” said Washburn. “She’s higher functioning and she’s a girl … so it’s more difficult to get the diagnosis.”

Washburn said the money she saves on fees can go toward more therapy.

Washburn has spent loads on therapy for Buddy. Anything that could help him progress, she’s willing to try because it seems to have worked. He didn’t speak until he was 4, instead grunting when he wanted something. He relied on sign language to communicate for a while. His behavior is still unpredictable, but he’s been having more “good days” than “bad days” lately.

Still, she said, she always feels like she’s fighting.

“I’m fighting with the schools, always fighting to get him the services he needs, I’m even fighting with my mom because she says something to me that I don’t think [is supportive],” said Washburn.

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