Every little bit counts

They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. You would be surprised how much we throw away that could actually be used by somebody else. 
My son’s clothes from last winter no longer fit him. I had cleaned out the drawers to make room for new clothing as I was going to put them in one of those clothing donation bins. But then I decided to post pictures of his clothes on his school’s Facebook page. Within ten minutes, a parent told me she could use the items and she picked them up the next evening.

The last couple of days I have also brought old papers/forms/mail etc that I have had sitting in a tote bag in my trunk for the last three months to a program for people with intellectual disabilities, as many of the individuals engage in paper shredding activities. They do this on an almost daily basis and struggle to gather enough paper to accommodate all participants. My mom had a large envelope for me this morning filled with papers to bring in.

So you see, what might no longer serve a purpose for you, can surely be used by someone else.  

Autistic caregiver shot by police

A behavioral therapist in Miami who worked with an autistic patient in an assisted living facility was shot by police on Monday.

The autistic individual left the facility and was seen wandering around in the street. Police received a call that an armed man was walking around threatening suicide. The therapist followed the individual to try to get him back to his home. When police arrived they had their weapons drawn, so the therapist laid on his back on the floor with his hands up in the air to show that he was unarmed and not a threat. He yelled out to the officers that he was a therapist, that the young man had a disability and was not holding a gun, but a toy truck. 

While laying on the floor, with his hands still in the air, the therapist was shot in the leg. Even after being shot he still kept his hands raised and said that he knew he had been shot. The officers then rolled him on to his stomach and handcuffed him. He asked the officer why he shot him and he said the officer responded, “I don’t know”. 

I would love to see how this story ends.

World Autism Conference at the United Nations

This morning was the World Autism Conference at the United Nations building. At the event were individuals with Autism, families of individuals with Autism and professionals that work with individuals with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities. April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Autism are names for a group of complex disorders in the brain. Characteristics include difficulty and anxiety around social interactions, delayed verbal and non-verbal communication, hypersensitivity to external stimuli and repetitive behaviors. ASD is sometimes associated with intellectual disability and attention/health issues such as GI problems. Obvious signs of Autism usually are evident at 2/3 years of age. Autism is 4-5 times more likely in boys.

Many people on the Autism Spectrum perform exceptionally in music and academic skills. According to AutismSpeaks.Org, 40% have average to above average intellectual abilities. 

One speaker, Alex Plank, is the founder of WrongPlanet.org. Alex is on the Autism Spectrum and founded this website to give people with Autism an opportunity to interact and socialize on the web with other people on the Spectrum. Friendships and relationships have formed as a result of this interactive platform, something that might not have happened otherwise. Many people with Autism have anxiety around socializing, interacting and going out. The Internet allows them to talk to people without having to make eye contact or feel the pressure of responding immediately in a conversation. 

Other speakers from around the world, including Bangladesh and Kenya, spoke about the lack of awareness on a ground level as well as on a political/governmental level. In many places around the world, where Autism and other disabilities are things that people are not educated about, the mindset is that these people born with the condition are “defective” or “evil”. Dr. John Maina, Director of Program Research, Evaluation and Development at Boston Higashi School, and also a parent of a child with Autism, said that in his homeland in Kenya, people with Autism are tied to trees because it is unknown what else to do. 

There is a major lack of knowledge and awareness on all levels of the abilities and potential of people with Autism. Hewlett Packard has teamed with SAP to allow people with Autism the opportunity to work for them, as they recognized the positive effects of doing so and the great contributions that people with Autism have made to their company. SAP  has changed the way they conduct interviews, as face to face interviews can be very challenging for someone with Autism. Instead, they provide trainings and workshops that allow people with Autism to display their talent. Graphic design, IT and Customer Service are some of the jobs currently offered through this program. 

One of the closing speakers, Ari Ne’eman, an individual with Autism and also the founder of the Autism Self Advocacy Network, informed viewers that it is preferred to receive a round of “flappause” as opposed to “applause”. “Flappause” is a waving of the hand and this gesture was borrowed by people with Autism from the deaf community, as it is preferred over the loud noise of clapping.