Utah Jazz forward, Joe Ingles and wife Renee Ingles revealed last February that their son Jacob had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Since that time, both Joe and Renee have become tremendous ambassadors for people living with autism across the United States, Australia and indeed the world.
April is autism awareness month, and with April 2nd being Autism Awareness Day, Joe Ingles joined Dr. Michele Kong for an Instagram Live Q&A to discuss the challenges parents face with raising a child with Autism.
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Kong is the co-founder of KultureCity, which focuses on accessibility and inclusion for those who require sensory needs.
"When you are affected by something like this so closely and obviously for us our son, you want to do everything you can and you are so driven to not only help Jacob but for every other family that doesn't have this platform," Ingles said to Kong during the session.
In conjunction with Kulture City, the Utah Jazz have already established a sensory room at Vivint Smart Homes arena, but will now have staff undertake training to further understand and be equipped to help guests with sensory needs.
For those who don't know, April is Autism awareness month.- Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) April 2, 2020
April 2nd is World Autism day!!!
I'm saying this because my timelines over this period will be flooded by positive & inspiring people affected by Autism. Please share your story, you are not alone!! 💙💙
"The Jazz have jumped on board with KultureCity which is unbelievable for us. As soon as we got Jacob's diagnosis we wanted to push a sensory room and make it something that was accessible to people in Utah and at Vivint Smart Homes Arena."
"Being a part of the Jazz and them supporting it like this is something you could only dream of. To ask a team for something that will help out so many people and to accept and do it pretty quickly and not hesitate at all is something that I'm proud to be a part of and proud to be a part of the Jazz," Ingles said.
The challenges of varying routine that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused has been difficult at times for Ingles, as a consistent schedule has been important for Jacob's development.
"The routine with [Jacob] is something that's so important. Now he wakes up and he doesn't know what's going to go on, he stays at home and gets to kind of relax a little bit before his at-home therapy starts."
"He's been lucky he's had one of the therapists being able to come each morning for a couple of hours and I guess for us, being two years into it we kind of have a bit more understanding knowledge of what he needs and what direction he is heading. As of now, it's up to us to keep him progressing and not letting him drop off because that drop off can be pretty rapid."
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As for a return to basketball?
Ingles isn't sure just yet, but he does know it will take some time to get back into game shape once normalcy resumes.
"Nothing simulates playing basketball.
"Regardless of if and when we get to go back and play, there's going to have to be some component of a mini-training camp or something, we can run all we want, and lift as many weights, run up the mountains here in Utah, but it's not going to simulate the five on five of a game," Ingles said.
April is National Autism Month - You can find out more about KultureCity by heading to their website: https://www.kulturecity.org/