There has been a lot of discussion this week on our listserv about a neighbor, a young man who has been a part of our community for several years. He was a student at Murray Jr. High, confirmed at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, worked for a while at Speedy Market and since 2012 has lived with his mother on Hillside. 

His name is Arron, he’s 20 years old and he has atypical autism which manifests itself in loud talking, odd movements, and/or behavior that may seem unusual but is generally his way of coping with the stress and anxiety he often feels. According to his mother in a letter written to the Bugle last fall, he is often unaware of the presence of others when these behaviors present, lost in a world of his own creation where he is surrounded by comforting sounds and images. He does not mean to intimidate or scare people and does not have a history of aggression. 

That said, his actions can feel aggressive and concerning, especially when they are observed by parents of young children playing in Langford Park near Arron’s home. While he is not accompanied 24/7, there is a network of people who are in touch with each other and monitor his behavior. So, when incidents occur, like the ones reported recently on listserv by people unfamiliar with him, or those who are aware but wonder if there is reason to be concerned about his current mental state, this network does connect to assess and consider next steps. 

It is a challenging situation which requires understanding and sensitivity by all of us who come in contact with Arron.  It’s also important for his caregiving team to find a way to share strategies his neighbors can use to understand his behavior, support his well-being and, if need be, report extreme behavior in a way that will benefit Aaron and address legitimate community concerns.  

For those who have never encountered these kinds of behavioral issues, it can be hard to put them into a non-threatening perspective. It is certainly appropriate to raise questions and seek answers when someone seems aggressive or troubled. 

But Arron’s challenges also give us an opportunity to educate ourselves and our children on how we embrace and support the “others” in our community.  

I am grateful that the tenor of the discussion on listserv has reflected such a high level of empathy and sensitivity while providing thoughtful resources for addressing the problem. It sets a very helpful tone for examining steps that can be taken to provide community support to help lessen everyone’s anxiety and promote better understanding.

D12 – I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s summer. And summer means outdoor activities like the Art Festival coming up on Saturday, June 1. It’s only a week and a half away but I am predicting a warm, sunny day filled with lovely art, music and friends. Don’t miss it, it keeps getting better every year and always features the Garden Club Plant sale.. The timing is perfect this year as there haven’t been many opportunities to get our fingers muddy yet…Saturday, June 17 is the Transportation Expo at Langford Rec Center where you can learn about and discuss everything that moves. Talk about Raymond Avenue changes, increased bus routes and light rail from 6:30-8pm… Join your neighbors for a citywide celebration to help prepare for Saint Paul’s 2013 National Night Out Kick Off Picnic, Wednesday, June 6, 6-7:30 pm at Phalen Park Picnic Pavilion, 1600 Phalen Drive, 55106. At this event, you’ll find out everything you need to know about the Tuesday, August 6, 2013, National Night Out planning process…further into June is the Garden Club’s Garden Tour. Twelve beautiful gardens will be featured from 10-4pm on June 29. 

SCHOOLS – St. Anthony Park Elementary School Field Days are happening from noon-2:50 on Monday, June 3, and from 8:30-11:05 a.m. and 12:25-2:50 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4. Those noises and cheers you hear will be the kids celebrating their friends winning efforts. If you want to volunteer to help, contact Karen Paulsen…I saw the buses loading up yesterday to take our 4 Destination Imagination teams down to the Global competitions in Knoxville, Tennessee. Two from the Elementary School and two from Murray. Go get ‘em, kids!...I’ve been seeing some great high school prom pictures on Facebook lately. Amazing how fast those kids grow up. 

StAPnotes – Avalon school needs some copies of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” for next fall. You can either drop one off at the school or purchase a new or used copy to donate. Here's their Amazon,com wishlist if you'd like to order through them. They thank you for your help!...Neighbor and Bugle board member, Eric Weiffering, is part of a Star Tribune reporting team nominated for a Gerald Loeb Award… The spring community Red Cross Blood Drive will be held at SAP Lutheran Church on the Tuesday following Memorial Day, May 28th from 2 - 7 PM. There are still times available. To schedule go online and use zip code 55108 and the date or call Joy Albrecht at 644-8833. 

That’s all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.