Autism Spectrum: Unite Together


A  ltering preconceived ideas and understand that autism is way of life not only a diagnosis

U  nderstanding creates acceptance

T  aking time to learn about people on the autism spectrum educates society. Assuming without the facts can be resultant in ignorance

I  nvolve yourself in assisting someone or people in the autism community. Take action and do not be a casual observer.

S  pectrum defines a broad category of individual. Just like a rainbow is comprised of a multitude of colors on the spectrum, autistic individuals present with many different issues, capabilities, and personalities.
ake yourself part of the soloution, not the problem.Acceptance and understanding through gaining knowledge is the key.

S  ee the person behind the disability as an equal productive member your community and society at large.

P  rovide a helping hand to exhausted parents, and individuals who are struggling to do the best that they can in life.

E  nhance the lives of individuals with special needs by modeling altruism rather than negativity. Be the person that reinforces the no I in WE. In doing so, you can help obliterate the THEM and Us attitude that separates rather then connects people together as a team.

C  apabilities are present in ALL human beings, including people on the autism spectrum. Look deeply and you will note their talents and not only imperfections which we ALL possess.

T  ake time today to open up your mind. Help someone on the spectrum to learn a new skill. Help an exhausted autism parent by asking how you can assist them. A kind smile, a positive word, or a shoulder for a frustrated individual can make a huge difference in someone’s day.

Remember, we are ALL on this earth for a reason, whether we have special needs or not.

U  nderstanding the Autism spectrum does not start with awareness. Awareness means we possess knowledge of the situation at hand as well. Conscious awareness develops from educating yourself on a topic. Once you educate yourself, you may develop understanding, acceptance and tolerance. Spending time with individuals and families within the autism community is a great way to do so.

M  ay we unite in society as a team with the ultimate goal
of unity, understanding, acceptance, collaboration and the ultimate goal of everyone who walks this earth feeling like they are equals and respected.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE

 

 

 

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Autism Awareness Should Be About Action Not Reaction


 

 

Autism Awareness month is upon us. What is awareness all about? I will start by posting a definition of awareness that I have mentioned in another post as well.
According to the Merriam Webster Encyclopedia, awareness means: “knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists”
Knowing that something exists, is not quite the same as fully supporting the issue. An example would be that we may see a homeless individual on the street and feel some empathy for there dilemma. This is an example of awareness of a situation. An individual may express concern for the homeless person’s situation, yet walk by them and go about their day. Rather then walking away, the individual who acts upon their concern and offers the individual a cup of coffee, etc. has learned from their level of awareness and used their knowledge to take action.
This said, I will not focus on whether an individual wears the color blue, which I am aware many individuals connect with Autism Speaks and present negative connotations towards this group. I do not care if an individual is wearing blue, orange, gold, or polka dots for that matter.

We may be surprised and find that the meaning of wearing blue for one individual during autism awareness month may not fit ones preconceived notions. I attempt to look beyond the colors and witness the individual’s actions and character as first and formost.

In not doing so, I would be presenting myself in a judgmental fashion akin with grouping African Americans, Asians, Caucasians, Indians, etc. into a preconceived belief system. Example in point: All Asians are not smart, all Indians are not rich because of casinos, all African Americans do not play basketball, and all Caucasians are not money hungry baseball lovers. I would be acting in an archaic manner and stepping back into another century where prejudice ran rampant in harboring these notions.

In the same fashion that “if we have worked with one autistic individual, we
have worked with all autistic individuals” This is a phrase that I personally abhor as there is a reason it is called the autistic spectrum. It is called a spectrum because there are are many different degrees of autism. This ideology is an example of a preconceived notion as well.  Individuals on the autistic spectrum present with varied personalities and needs, just like typically developing individuals do.

To take the idea of preconceived notions a bit further. One may assume a color is symbolic for a group or belief. For another individual, that color may symbolize something totally different. I will continue to favor the color blue because it is symbolic of something very different in my eyes.
For me, the color blue symbolizes promise. As I peer into the sky I see spring approaching after a gray dismal winter. I see a beautiful blue horizon that has taken on a distinctly sharper more vivid hue then was evident in the winter sky. While peering at the Spring sky, I see promise of green grass coming back to life, the return of birds tweeting outside my window.

In conjunction with autism, I connect the blue horizon that extends for miles into the atmosphere and over the ocean with realization that the autistic spectrum knows no boundaries. As the horizon is spread across the whole world in areas where our eyes cannot peer, the autism spectrum holds secrets that we cannot see. It holds the secret to individuals futures that we cannot see.

We do not have a crystal ball. i.e. a child that was not supposed to speak, ends up doing so, a child who’s parents were told to institutionalize them suddenly gains an awareness of their surroundings that no one expected, the child who was not supposed to toilet or self feed independently miraculously does so. As the horizon connects us all together although we are not aware of the activity on the other side of the world, our children have a future path that we are not aware of.

As you can see, blue possesses a different meaning for me then it does for someone else. Lets get to know each other before making judgments. Focus on the advantages of autism awareness month. Breed awareness through your actions not preconceived notions. A color will not change the world but making a difference will. Help a family who is overtired from caring for children on the autism spectrum. Help the family do chores, watch their special needs child so they can get a few hours of uninterrupted rest or enjoy a cup of coffee alone at a restaurant.

Help an adult on the spectrum who cannot drive by giving him a ride to work or elsewhere. Offer to help him or her compose a letter if they struggle with writing skills. Teach a parent support class, offer to teach life skills for free to transitioning young adults. These are mere examples of focusing on not only awareness but acceptance and education for the autism spectrum as well.

Last but not least, do not stop with only making contributions during autism awareness month. Continue helping society to become accepting and a place where all on the spectrum can live, work, love and play 12 months of the year. For families and individuals affected by autism, autism awareness is a 24 – 7 life for them.

The blue lights in the Empire State building, the rivers tinted blue, (or gold or purple for that matter) will dissipate and soon be a memory. Your efforts within the autism community will make a lasting impact however. Parents and individuals affected by autism will still be living with it after April is nothing but a mere memory. As families and individuals live with autism seven days a week, let’s make a pact to stay action oriented seven days a week as well. Keep your focus on the goal. When there is no more blue what will you do?

Thank you and let’s start advocating.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

Mari Nosal M.Ed. CECE

 

 

 

 

Autism Awareness Month….It Is Ok To Wear Blue But What Will You Do



I have been observing all the light it up blue slogans that inevitably pop up during autism awareness month In recent years, I have witnessed buildings as grand as the Empire State Building emanating with the familiar blue glow to acknowledge autism spectrum awareness.

I have witnessed rivers tinted blue, blue signs in windows, individuals who colored their hair blue, wore blue clothes and more in the name of supporting autism awareness. Their intentions are good and appreciated. However what is awareness?

According to the Merriam Webster Encyclopedia, awareness means: “knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists”

Knowing that something exists, is not quite the same as fully supporting the issue. An example would be that we may see a homeless individual on the street and feel some empathy for there dilemma. This is an example of awareness of a situation. An individual may express concern for the homeless person’s situation, yet walk by them and go about their day. Rather then walking away, the individual who acts upon their concern and offers the individual a cup of coffee, etc. has learned from their level of awareness and used their knowledge to take action.

In my opinion, autism awareness month should be called autism awareness, understanding and acceptance month. For sure, light up blue. But what else will you do? Autism awareness month is an opportune time to gain understanding about the autism community. Awareness can turn into acceptance and that in turn can breed understanding within society.

How, you may ask does this domino effect occur? When you see the color blue which is abundant right now in support of ASD, attempt to delve deeper and learn what autism awareness is about. As you delve deeper, a learning experience will occur. This learning experience may help you gain a better comprehension of what the autism community goes through every day. This may be resultant in feeling compelled to take action and get involved with ASD.

As the parent of an adult son with Asperger’s Syndrome and ADD, I can tell you with some degree of certainty that for the ASD community autism awareness is something that we are conscious of 24 – 7. When other parents are worried because their child did not become prom queen or head of the football team, ASD parents simply wish their child had one friend or could be accepted on a sports team. I hear many individuals say they know someone with autism, have interacted with someone on the spectrum, or taught someone on the spectrum and declare themselves aficionados on the topic.

Living with someone who has ASD or being an individual with ASD is not the same thing. One may know someone on the spectrum yet their interaction is limited as they are able to go home. A teacher may see them in a classroom yet do not have to get up with that child when they wander etc. in the middle of the night.

When other parents get babysitters and go out on a date night, ASD parents are at home because their child’s meltdowns, behaviors, and needs are too difficult for most baby sitters to handle. Special needs parents may be financially strapped as well due to occupational, speech, and physical therapy bills, medical issues, and supplemental items that their child needs. Thus, cannot afford babysitting services.

That said, I would like to propose a challenge to everyone. Light it up blue but please think about what you can do. If a neighbor has a child on the spectrum, offer to babysit or take the child out so the parents can have some respite. If you see a child having a meltdown in public, do not assume they are spoiled and require discipline. That child may be on the spectrum and you might not be aware of that fact. A simple acknowledgment to a parent mentioning the fact that they appear to be having a difficult time and offering assistance goes a long way.

Offer to take their typically developing children out as many special needs parents possess deep guilt regarding the fact that special needs demands take time away from their other children. In reverse, visit their house and interact with their special needs child so parents can have some cherished one on one time with their typically developing children.

Perhaps you could offer to cook a meal for the family, or mow their lawn in consideration of the fact that their child’s needs are time consuming and the parents may me strapped for time. This list could be lengthy. Just use your imagination will end it here as I believe my message has been conveyed.

Educators or autism specialist could offer courses to educate the public on Autism. Teachers could read books about autism in their classrooms or allow parents to come in and speak about their children.

Awareness can be a wonderful tool that can change the world. I once had a small child in my classroom that was afraid to go in the playground because a little boy chased her and growled at her. It turned out that the little boy in question was autistic and nonverbal.

I consulted with the little girls parents. It became evident that she had never had interactions with autistic individuals before. I read books about autism in class and with all of the parent’s blessings had the autistic child visit my class. I educated the children on his issues, showed them that there was nothing to fear, had the autistic boy’s mother come in and talk about his issues.

The end result: The little girl who was initially terrified of the autistic boy due to not knowing what his issues were, became his friend. I always made sure that interactions were supervised by an adult. My crowning moment of joy was observing the little boy being bullied in the playground. The little girl who initially was afraid came to his defense and explained his issues to the bullies. The bullies backed away and the little girl attempted to play with her new autistic friend.

Through initial awareness and education, action and acceptance occurred. And a little child shall lead. Light it up blue, but what will you do?

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

 

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9