TRURO, N.S. - Lori Logue Storr was working with children on the autism spectrum when she noticed signs of the condition in her own young son.
Today, Colm Storr, runs his own mobile food truck business, Waffles on My Mind, while his entire family has come on board to promote autism awareness and acceptance.
“It’s interesting to live with this, both personally and professionally,” said Lori, who works with autistic children in the school system, and is a volunteer with Autism Nova Scotia.
“With Colm, there were several signs. His language was very delayed and he had ways to self soothe, like fiddling with an object. He was rigid about things that were new to him, his tolerance for loud noises was low, and he would smell things before eating. He wasn’t initiating much play or conversation, but would sit alone and do things that made him comfortable.
“He was about four when he was diagnosed, and he’s moved so well within his skill set. He’s done very well independently, and we’ve always respected and loved who he is. I’m blessed to have such a fantastic son.”
Colm always wanted to help in the kitchen, and enjoyed baking for his family.
“It’s relaxing and fun,” he said. “It’s nice when people enjoy the food I make.”
He was interested in taking cooking courses through the Nova Scotia Community College or Holland College, in Charlottetown, although barriers have prevented him from doing so. But that’s not to day he has given up on the idea.
“I might try again,” he said.
Lori said the Cobequid Educational Centre was very supportive of Colm’s interest in baking, and encouraged him. He went on to take a course through FutureWorx, secured his food-handling certificate, and worked in the kitchen at the Holiday Inn before starting his own business.
Waffles on My Mind was extremely popular last year and will be on the road again beginning in May. His mother, along with father, Eric, and sister, Alex, work with him.
“He came up with a recipe that combines his great aunt’s recipe with others,” said Lori. “He comes up with the ideas for the waffles, and with the names, and he’s the head chef. This is something he does well, and he takes a lot of pride in it. It’s helped with his independence and self-esteem.”
Colm, who is now 25, also bakes a cake for the local Walk the Walk for Autism, held in June, each year.
“With the society, we’re trying get folks to become agents of change,” said Lori. One of the greatest things is that kids are accustomed to differences now.”
The library has been lit up in blue for autism awareness, and a display is set up inside. Many local businesses are displaying Autism Nova Scotia’s Shine Blue NS sign.
More information on autism can be found online at http://www.autismnovascotia.ca. Information on the walk can be found at walkthewalkforautism.ca.
April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month.
Early signs of autism (12 to 24 Months) can include:
- Often begins to develop language, then loses it, or doesn’t acquire language at all;
- May appear deaf, respond unevenly or not at all to sounds;
- Difficulty consoling during transitions (tantrums);
- Difficulty sleeping / wakes at night;
- Does not “point and look”;
- Failure to bond (e.g., child is indifferent to parents’ presence);
- Self-restricted diet;
- Limited imaginative play;
- Not interested in playing with other children;
- Chronic gastrointestinal problems;
- Repeated infections.
- Autism Canada