Living Life in Full Spectrum on the Spectrum

Meet Bo. He’s much more than someone with autism. He’s an athlete, a community activist, and a beloved colleague.

While Bo struggles to understand and communicate with other people, his love of routine and detail allows him to excel at tasks many find monotonous.

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Three years ago, Bo became Kendal Dining Service’s first busboy. With the help of his mother, Randi Harron, Bo applied to Kendal because the retirement community had a great reputation for helping its employees – particularly those with special needs – find roles that suit them.

Recently, Kendal has extended Bo’s responsibilities to include assisting the recreation department. Every week, the employees re-create a magnet crossword puzzle on a whiteboard. The women who run the department find the task tedious. Bo relishes the challenge. He quickly perceives where the pieces belong and can re-create the puzzle in five minutes.

The Kendal community loves Bo. Residents will eagerly step up to support and defend him – especially if they see his job coach, Maureen Garmon, coming. Maureen helps Bo navigate relationships with his co-workers and, if necessary, mediates any conflicts. Randi says that Kendal residents will often approach her, telling her how much they love Bo, and warning her and the job coach not to say anything mean to “their Bo.”

Last year, Kendal gave a luncheon to honor Bo and several of his co-workers who belong to the Upper Valley Hawks Special Olympics Team. He still gets choked up as he recalls the event.

Bo and his mother also volunteer with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. For the past 10 years, Bo has worked alongside Hartford’s chief of police to raise money for the Special Olympics. Mother and son have also participated in a ride-a-ton for the therapeutic riding program that Bo formerly attended. A couple of times a month, Bo uses his gift for detail and order to help sort the CDs and DVD at the West Hartford Library.

With the support of the Kendal community, his job coach, and his mother’s guidance, Bo is working towards his goal of living independently – and after that moving to a larger city.

Favorite Disney Movie: All of them

Favorite Activities: Basketball, golfing, horseback riding, and track and field 

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