Special Olympics teach life skills to Davenport man with autism
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Jason Halkias loves figure skating.
“You really feel proud of yourself. You feel a sense of passion out there” said Halkias.
The 36-year-old has been a Special Olympian for nearly three decades.
“You get to have fun, you get to make new friends and you get to do things that either you were not able to do before and now you love to do or things you wanted to do and now you’re doing.”
Through the years, the Special Olympics have been changing Jason’s life for the better.
“I wasn’t really the greatest person when it came to socializing but Special Olympics has helped in this regard and I could make the argument that it’s also helped me develop in the work place as well.”
Jason is autistic.
“Just like anyone without autism, we are intelligent, we can do great things, obviously we just might do it a little differently.”
He’s held a job with the YMCA for 11 years.
“Sometimes I had to learn for example how do you properly talk to this person and or in this setting, because in my early years of working, I wasn’t exactly a master at that. Yes I’m not perfect, I’ve made a few mistakes here and there but I’ve also learned how to take accountability because I didn’t use to do that on a consistent basis.”
After a two year hiatus due to COVID-19, this month Jason was thrilled to be able to compete in figure skating for the first time since the pandemic began.
“You know there’s a lot of people that it takes to make this happen aside from us athletes. Obviously you’ve got your coaches, your volunteers, even all the way up to the State office, the organizers, and even the people in the cities where that host us and that run all those events yea they do a lot that sometimes we don’t even think about and that makes you appreciate it more than ever before.”
Jason just won another gold medal in Figure Skating, but the medals aren’t what keep Jason coming back to the Special Olympics.
“Most of the events are away from home. Those are the opportunities you get to see those people that are your friends that you usually don’t most of the other times of the year and when you get that chance to get together, socialize, and have fun, that really means a lot.”
The people and the lasting friendships mean the most.
“Without that, I don’t know where I would be today.”
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