Jamie Grover is from Orlando, Florida and serves as the Group Director for Autism on the Seas. He also is a writer and a certified assistance dog trainer. Jamie has an adopted son named Dennis who has autism. Jamie Grover is an Autism Light for the diverse ways he has contributed to the autism community. His life is a life full with autism, whether he is facilitating recreation for hero autism families or hanging out with his adopted son between cruises.
Most autism fathers would say they didn't choose autism, but autism chose them. However, for Jamie Grover, it was a personal choice to make the lifetime commitment to be an autism father. His son, Dennis Rudd-Grover, was a teenager who had autism at the time that Jamie adopted him as his son. The two's relationship started in a Best Buddies program in Dennis' middle school and it became evident that the two were meant to be a family. Dennis also works on staff with Autism on the Seas and has the opportunity to travel with his father on cruises.
"It used to upset me when asked if I adopted my son knowing he was autistic," said Jamie Grover. "I've had some ask, "Why?" when I say, "Yes." And I've been asked why I adopted outside my race. With all the children in the world that need loving homes, special needs children often grow up in foster care homes never knowing what it's like having a family of their own. I highly recommend adopting a loving special needs child. My son, now 23 years old, is the greatest gift God could have ever bestowed upon me. I cannot imagine my life without having this remarkable young man in my life. Adopting an autistic young adult has not always been easy, but I would not hesitate for a second to do it again!"
Certified Dog Trainer: Jamie Grover served as the West Coast Representative for the North Star Foundation, an organization which pairs children with autism and other special needs with trained service dogs. He worked with North Star Foundation for 8 years and is a certified North Star dog trainer. He has trained dogs for several autism situations, including a family with triplets who all have autism. For more information on the North Star Foundation visit their website a www.northstardogs.com/.
Autism on the Seas: Jamie Grover has served as the Group Director of Autism on the Seas since 2006. Autism on the Seas conducts 15-20 cruises per year and cruises will have programs geared specifically to meet needs of people with autism and virtually any congnitive, intellectual, or developmental impairment--of any age. Jamie Grover is responsible for the autism program on the cruise. He arranges for staff who will work with those with autism during Autism on the Seas cruises. Staff may include special education teachers, BCBA's, occupational therapists, or students, and the ratio of staff to children is kept at 1:3 or 1:4. Note also that the cruise can accommodate individuals with autism of any age and they have had adults with autism experience this unique vacation as well.
Jamie Grover wrote this about his passion for serving families on Autism on the Seas.
I’m the father of a special needs child myself, so I understand some of the challenges that you go through. We really wanted to provide a total vacation, not only for the child on the autism spectrum or with Down syndrome or whatever the special need is, but we really wanted to provide a vacation for the moms and dads and the siblings (Source).The following is a video about some of the activities on an Autism on the Seas cruise.
I wish we had someone with Jamie’s heart heading our schools and teaching our school officials, he’s just that amazing of a human being. Hands down the most amazing vacation we’ve ever had! We cannot wait to cruise again with Autism on the Seas next year. I strongly recommend to anyone with a special needs child not cheat themselves out of this experience!If you are an autism family and would like to experience a cruise with Autism on the Seas visit their website at www.autismontheseas.com for more information.
Social Media: You can follow the work of Autism on the Seas at the following social media sites.
Writer: Jamie Grover worked for the University Center for Developmental Disabilities at California State University-San Bernadino for 12 years. He was the programs Project Coordinator and Editor of the centers quarterly publication "The UCCD Voice." Jamie has written and published many articles related to the special needs of children on the autism spectrum and their families. Here are a couple of samples of his writings:
- On the High Seas. UCDD (University Center for Developmental Disabilities) Voice Publication - Summer 2008. This is a recounting of the first Autism on the Seas cruise Jamie Grover led as Group Director.
- Parent-Teacher Teamwork. Special Education Advisor, August, 2012. This is an article that gives wisdom from Jamie Grover's experience as an educator and understanding the perspective of both a parent and an educator.
Group Counselor: Jamie Grover has been a parent group counselor and has taught workshops, including positive parenting techniques, parent communication and wellness, and IEP planning & strategies.
Special thanks to Jamie Grover for the light that he brings to the autism community. Whether he's tirelessly facilitating Autism on the Seas cruises for families to receive some much needed rest and relaxation, writing about the needs of people with autism, or just hanging out with his son Dennis, Jamie Grover's life is shining to make the world a better place for those with autism.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.
Photo's: The photos in this post were used with permisson of Lisa Kaslyn of Autism on the Seas.