As April comes to a wrap, we round up autism acceptance month. I say acceptance instead of awareness because as individuals on the spectrum, we want to be acceptance by people rather than people just being “aware” of us. We are just like anyone else and want to be treated equal. We can for sure make a difference.
The pandemic has been a major adjustment for all of us. For all of us, the pandemic, indeed has been a major change in our daily living routines. I am someone who tends to do best with routines and structure and change is hard for me. I was never resistant to wearing a face mask and I began wearing face masks very early on in the pandemic. Coming from a mostly medical family, I’ve always been ahead on the health protocols, however, it was also my mindset as well. I care about helping myself and others. I care about my husband, our cat, our family, our friends and our communities, as well as doing what is right. These experiences make us better and stronger as we grow during hard times. However, even after the pandemic is over, one thing that worries me is that individuals with autism and other disAbilities will be left further behind. Whether its school or employment or socialization, individuals on the autism spectrum often have lots of obstacles to get through. There are many challenges many individuals with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) face on a daily basis (pandemic or no pandemic). Face coverings have been hard for many individuals with ASD as it makes comprehending social cues even more difficult as you can only see peoples eyes through the face mask rather than their whole faces.
I hope to really bridge the gap Despite face masks making social cues difficult, it is very important for everyone to wear them, even individuals with ASD as it helps slow the spread of coronavirus and especially the new variants. You do not have to agree with me on everything I say. We have our own opinions, but I am just saying my point. We can all get through this and I have faith in everyone.
Some tips to help wear a mask for Children with ASD can include:
-Using face masks with fun designs
-Practicing using face masks on dolls, stuffed animals, etc
-Link wearing face masks to super hero capes
Wow! What a year! The pandemic for sure was an unexpected disruption. Moving to another state during a pandemic and starting a new job and graduate school during a tumultuous time was quite the experience, but tough times build us stronger. I hope to make a difference in 2021 and help make strides with neurodiversity as well as in the classroom with the children whom I teach. I am so grateful to have a supportive husband and family. Sometimes you may hit rock bottom, but that just makes you stronger, as the only way to go from there is up! Then you reach sky high. Tough times makes us all stronger. I like to look on the bright side. I have high hopes for 2021 and know it will be a great year!
These past two months have been difficult for everyone. However, for children who are on the autism spectrum, things can be even more difficult. Transitioning from being used to instruction in the brick-and-mortar classroom to virtual school at home can be difficult for any child. However, for children with autism, any transition can be very alarming. Routines are very important for individuals with autism. Without routines, many individuals with autism (including myself) can really get frustrated and go stir crazy. Here are some great apps and ideas you can do with your child at home.
Otsimo: Otsimo is an app designed for children with autism with a lot of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) features. It includes a lot of personalized learning for your child. https://otsimo.com/en/
Social Stories for Children with Autism: Autism Parenting Magazine always has great ideas of activities to do with children who are on the autism spectrum (especially this link for social stories). https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/social-stories-for-autistic-children/
Best Buddies: Best Buddies normally provides one-on-one face-to-face friendships between individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disAbilities (IDD). However, with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic going on, Best Buddies is shifting virtual for now. They have a lot of virtual activities and events going on that could benefit as a social outlet for many individuals on the autism spectrum. https://www.bestbuddies.org/
Wow! I cant believe that it is already 2020! It is a new decade! The 2010’s just went by in a flash! Now welcome to the 2020’s! I am hoping that this year is a big year for disability rights and autism awareness. I have high hopes for this upcoming year and decade that we will have lots of opportunities for accomplishments. There is always progress to be made and progress being made.
All my life, I have always waned to work with young children in the classroom, especially with young children with disabilities. I myself received special education services growing up and am on a mission to help provide the same services to children that helped me become who I am today. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and didn’t start speaking until the age of two and a half. In elementary school, I began to develop anxiety disorder and a learning disability and struggled with attention. I had trouble focusing in middle and high school. I have also struggled a lot with my social skills. My parents have been told by people that they do not know if I will be successful or not, but they always knew that I will be successful and can beat the odds. I love and trust my parents, and they were correct. Despite all of these setbacks, I did beat the odds and have proven that nothing can stop me from being on a path to pursue my dream. Some school personnel didn’t know if I would be able to graduate from high school with a standard diploma. Well guess what, I did it! It was uncertain I would be able to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree. Well guess what, I did that too. It was uncertain if I can have a healthy relationship and get married. Well guess what, that has also happened and my husband and I are living happily together with our sweet cat that we adopted from the local humane society. I am now a teacher assistant at an Early Head Start center in Utah working with high-needs children from low-income families and children with special needs. I feel that having autism helps me be successful with teaching young children with disabilities as it helps me see their needs from a different perspective, as I can relate to them as I too have a developmental disability, in which I view as a different way of thinking rather than a “limitation” or a “disability. My autism makes my teaching style unique as it adds character and a distinct personality when working with the children. I feel that whenever I interact with children, they sense my animated personality as well as my natural demeanor of accepting each child for who they are individually. I know each child’s special interests and personalities and embrace each child as equal. I have always believed that education starts from a young age and that tolerance, social skills, kindness and acceptance are just as big of an importance as core academic subjects, such as reading and mathematics. Without these personal traits, it is often hard to be successful. There is so much no-so-good-news that the last thing we need is intolerance and exclusion. I feel that I have experienced a lot of this myself and it has made me a stronger person instead of bringing me down. I feel much of this adversity has built up resilience in myself and has made an impact on how I help the children I work with become resilient as well. Although the children I work with are very young, with many still in diapers, they can still learn resilience as resilience helps overcome trauma and adversity one may be facing. The early years are the most important years to become resilient and to educate about acceptance of individuals with disabilities. Not only do I educate the children, but they also teach me as well. I hope to get the message out to more and more people about my message. I aspire to become the head teacher someday and always want to remain in the classroom on the floor with the children because I have always believed that makes the most impact as an activist, and I am an activist. I do not sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen, I make things happen. The children look at me each day and look up to me as their superhero to help change the world. Many people may not realize this, but these children are going to be the next generation to make an impact in the world and we have to help them foster their skills, which is what teachers do. Autism doesn’t stop a child from pursing his or her own dreams or being successful. That is just a mindset. It comes from the heart and only the sky is the limit. Hopefully one day there will be no labels or barriers. I can see one day where inclusion classrooms will be the norm and more individuals with autism being employed and going to college. I know the future is bright for individuals with disabilities and I can feel it.
Growing up with autism has made me have the ability to think on the level from the perspective of a child who has autism.
I know you already do a lot of work, and teaching is no easy job. However, I have something you may want to know about me: I have a disability. I may be a special needs child and my needs may be greater than other children, but I still love to learn. You may sometimes wonder if you are doing enough to support my learning needs and worried if you are doing things the wrong way… but please, don’t worry!! You are putting in great effort to help me learn and grow. You are the most powerful superhero I know. You believe in me and other children with special needs. You help make us become champions so we can make a difference on others just like you do. I like how you believe in us and it’s important to keep believing in us, because we will keep showing you how incredible your superpowers are and the influence it had on us. A disability is not an inability, it is just a different ability, an ability in which we do things a bit differently. We want you to keep doing the amazing job you are doing to help us someday beat the odds and have jobs that make a difference to the world just like you do to us.
Child with a Disability
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This is a great concept, however, we need to take more action than only just spreading awareness. Although many efforts are in place to help individuals with disabilities become successfully employed here in the United States, we still have ways to go. According to disabled world https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/statistics/2019-chart.php, 37% of adults with disabilities are employed, while around 77% of adults without disabilities are employed. Often times, many of these employed individuals with disabilities are working part-time (not full-time) and are paid only minimum wage, or even worse, paid a sub-minimum wage. A sub-minimum wage is a separate minimum wage that some states have allowing employers to pay individuals with disabilities less. In Florida, its $2 an hour. However, efforts are being put in place to get rid of sub-minimum wages. I am thankful I am employed full-time with benefits and above minimum wage. Although I am beating the odds, I want to help others beat the odds as well.
Lately, We have heard a lot of young people around the world protesting, demanding that their countries’ government officials take action on tackling climate change. It is not about politics, its about creating a better world for everyone, which has nothing to do with politics. Greta Thunberg is such a powerful force for demanding environmental action in tackling climate change. Yes that is a big issue, but what about Disability Rights? Although we have come a long way here in America when it comes to the rights of individuals with disAbilities, I personally feel that we still have ways to go. Just like the climate change protests, this isn’t about politics, it is about the people and is a people issue, not a political issue. Public Special Education, in particular, is very under-funded and a lot of services for individuals with disabilities are very expensive. Luckily, there are many new laws that are being created to benefit the families of individuals with disAbilities to help them have the financial support for therapies. I am telling all of you families out there of individuals with disAbilities that I am on your side. I am very vocal and am committed to changing the lives of individuals with disAbilities and making the world a better place for people of all abilities!!!
What does being married really mean? To many people, marriage means a sacred bond between two individuals who share love and joy for each-other. Getting married is often looked at as a coming of age event to a new beginning and a new life. Marriage is often on most of our bucket lists and we are all hoping for a great, long-lasting marriage that in which we strengthen it and it lasts forever. Yes, marriage can be scary, but it is the same as most new things and many major life events. Marriage is very rewarding and something most of us look forward too. However, for many individuals on the autism spectrum, marriage often times can be something “out of reach”, as most individuals with autism do not get married. There are often numerous “roadblocks” in the way of marriage for many individuals with autism. Often times, many individuals with autism who do get married do get divorced, but that didn’t stop me from marrying the man I love. My husband and I strengthen our marriage with each-other by supporting each–other and making decisions together. Together, we live a great life. The two of us, along with our jubilant tabby-cat. We don’t see ourselves as the “autistic/immigrant couple” we see ourselves as a couple who loves and cares about each-other and we are just like any married couple and just like any couple in general. I feel that at times, in my point of view as an individual on the autism spectrum, people often do not take individuals with disAbilities serious when it comes to romantic interests and relationships. I feel that society as come a long way and that many options in many areas are now available to individuals with autism and other disAbilities. However, I feel that the area of romantic relationships is often overlooked. More people need to realize that individuals on the autism spectrum and with other disAbilities are wanting to engage in romantic relationships. We have the same desires for intimacy. Most of us want to be able to get an opportunity to engage in an intimate relationship. On August 31, 2019, me and my husband tied the knot at our wedding. We had a celebration filled with food, fun, dancing and laughter and joy. It was a nice, serene Saturday evening at a western heritage living museum overlooked by the mountains. It was gorgeous and we were surrounded by family and friends. Is marriage attainable for individuals on the autism spectrum???? Absolutely!!!! People need to realize that we are all humans and almost all humans have a desire for love and harmony and that happily ever after….
So here you go!!!!!!!!!! I am 26, autistic, married and am living happily ever after…….