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The money will help a Warminster fourth grader diagnosed with Asperger's continue his developmental progress.

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Fourth-grader Blake Emsley cannot write legibly with a pen. The condition, called aphasia, is one of the many symptoms of a child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Because he cannot write does not mean Blake cannot communicate, as he demonstrated with a joke at Warminster Rotary's weekly luncheon at Giuseppe's Pizza & Family Restaurant Tueday afternoon.

"What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?" asked Blake. "Frostbite."

Unfortunately, schools don't grade students on charm. However, thanks to advancements in mobile technology and apps, Blake has been able to keep up with his classmates. The alternative communication method has taken a toll on his family's budget, making them prime candidates for the Warminster Rotary Club's annual charity donation drive.

 
Emsley and his parents, Bill and Kelly, were the guests of honor during Tuesday's lunch, when they were presented by Rotary Club President and District Judge Daniel Finello with a $5,000 check to help them make ends meet.

"Several local families are nominated each year, then we go out and interview the families," said Finello. "As soon as I left the Emsley's home, I knew immediately we had to help them out. They are just one of the nicest families I have interviewed."

Each year, Warminster Rotary selects one or two local families in need and spends the year raising money for them, with the bulk of the funds coming from the annual Charity Ball. The Blake and his family were nominated for the honor by representatives from Athletes Helping Athletes, a Richboroi-based non-profit that helps special needs children enjoy the thrill of organized sports by minimizing the stress and pressure of competition.

"Blake is an honorary captain, which mean he goes out onto the field for the coin toss before a high school football game," said Bill. "He gets a special medal when he is finished."

Kelly, a non-faculty employee at William Tennent High School, said that Blake formed strong bonds with the Panthers' football team when they volunteered to help out during football camp in the summer. Her older son, Bryce, is a member of the team.

"All of the players know Blake, he's made a lot of friends," said Kelly. "It has really opened him up. He is not as socially shy as he used to be."

Up until the third grade, Blake was in and out of five separate schools, according to the Emsleys. A combination of diagnosed schoolphobia, separation anxiety and full-blown meltdowns made it difficult to keep Blake in a stable classroom. Throughout the fourth grade, Blake spent most of his time learning at home, unable to handle more than two hours at school.

Since September, however, Kelly and Bill have seen strong progress in Blake's development. He has been able to attend full days at Willow Dale Elementary and has even moved into the mainstream classroom.

"His principals, (Michael) Donnelly and (Brian) Swank, and his teacher (Jeff) Markowski have done an incredible job with Blake this year," said Kelly.