Find­ing strength through struc­ture and dis­ci­pline

New­found­land brings new op­por­tu­nity, yet some strength for autis­tic ath­lete

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY CORY HUR­LEY

www.stjohn­stri.com

Jackie Bar­rett be­came the “Hal­i­fax Her­cules” by es­tab­lish­ing him­self as one of the premier powerlifters in the world. It could very well have been for the strength he and his fam­ily pos­sessed in life.

Bar­rett was a healthy baby un­til the age of two, when things dras­ti­cally changed.

His con­stant tantrums made him al­most im­pos­si­ble to be around and he didn’t show nor­mal in­tel­lec­tual de­vel­op­ment.

Doc­tors even­tu­ally rec­om­mended his par­ents, Bob and Jeanne, to pre­pare to place him in an in­sti­tu­tion.

He was even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed with autism and a learn­ing dis­or­der, and his par­ents said they were in­formed by med­i­cal per­son­nel Jackie was “never go­ing to be any­thing.” His mother ac­cepted the di­ag­no­sis, but not the re­al­ity. She set out to pro­vide him with the best op­por­tu­nity she could - quit­ting her job, en­rolling him in school, and im­ple­ment­ing a life­long pro­gram com­mit­ted to his de­vel­op­ment. Struc­ture and dis­ci­pline would be the sta­ple of his youth.

“ I just said,‘ no way, this is not hap­pen­ing,’” Jeanne said, while sit­ting in her liv­ing room with a view over­look­ing the Bay of Is­lands and the Blow Me Down Moun­tains in the back­ground. “ ... I knew I would have to work with him, I couldn’t ex­pect

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