Choosy eater to Healthy eater

Are you someone who likes to eat only certain foods?

One of the signs or symptoms of Autism are people’s less interest in food or uncommon food preferences due to sensory issues, underdeveloped oral motor muscles, or behaviors influenced from the environment. During physical therapy at a very young age, I had trouble chewing foods, so I was taught how to chew by the therapist using hands-on prompting. They were using their hand to open and close my mouth. This helped me learn to chew and eat foods.

As I got older, I had a hard time trying new foods in general. When I was little, all I used to eat was macaroni and cheese, pizza, and French toast. I had these foods three meals a day for years. Plus, I had a certain way of eating these foods. For example, I would cut my French toast from the middle, eat around it first, and then eat in the middle of the French toast. This was a preference I liked when eating my toast. Another example would be when I tried a cupcake back in Children’s Center, the first school I ever attended in New Jersey. I ate just the bottom of a cupcake rather than the entire cupcake. That was how I ate cupcakes later on. Here is a picture of me eating a cupcake:

I preferred to eat the bottom of the cupcake rather than the entire cupcake.

I think a lot of people can relate when it comes being a choosy eater. Now how do we break this habit exactly? People can go from being a choosy eater to a healthy eater in life. It is possible! Its all about taking the first step. I know the journey is not easy, but I can tell you myself that it’s worth it because eating healthy is part of a life journey for everyone. Any kind of food we eat impacts our own health. Here are some ways to help to become a choosy eater to a healthy eater yourself:

  1. Start small. By taking baby steps, it can help towards eating new foods. For example, taking at least one bite of a new food will already make a difference. Make sure to praise afterwards because that was a big victory right there!
  2. Do not press buttons. This means to not push your own or someone’s luck when trying new foods. For example, if a person has trouble sitting at the table due to past negative experiences and that is causing them to not try new foods, just make a goal to have to sit at the table for a couple of minutes. Its all about changing attitude towards mealtime. By changing attitude, this will help towards trying new foods.
  3. Share clear expectations. Make sure to schedule times to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Using a clock, timer on the phone, or visual schedule are examples of visuals that can help create expectations for mealtime when going to try new foods.
  4. Reinforce! Make sure to use a reinforcement system based on yourself or the individual on the spectrum. Praise for all of the good things you or someone on the spectrum is doing during meal time. From seating at the table for mealtime to taking a bite of a new food, providing feedback and praise is key to changing attitude and increasing this habit in the future and into other environments.

So are you someone who eats only certain foods, and do you think it’s possible to break the habit? Or do you know someone who is a choosy eater, and do you think it’s possible that they can break the habit? Share your experiences in the comment’s section!

Life in the Middle

A well-known concern from families is about having more kids after finding out their child was diagnosed with Autism. The answer to the question is that siblings are your Autistic child’s best friends for life. I know because I am the only one out of four that is Autistic in my family. I share being in the middle with my brother! Here is a picture of my siblings and I:

Samantha (my older sister), me, Jonny (my brother), and Ariella (my little sister) after graduation for my Associate’s Degree from my community college back in May 2019.

I always been known as the middle kid from the start. My older sister, Samantha, is two years older than me. Back in Brooklyn, NY, Samantha was the first sibling to know about my Autism diagnosis. My brother, Jonny was born 6 months after I was diagnosed with Autism the same year. He is a couple of years younger than me. In 2010, Ariella came when I was in 7th grade in middle school. Ever since Ariella came, my brother and I have been the middle kids in our family. As mentioned earlier, no else in my family is Autistic. I want parents to know that children are born differently, and it varies family to family. No matter what, love them as them. I love my siblings because they always loved and accepted me as who I am, and they still do today.

Siblings provide ongoing support for Autistics as they navigate in the world. Even though I’m further away from Samantha and Jonny now, since living in Florida, they still always help me out with anything when needed. Siblings create inclusion for Autistics in all kinds of environments and activities. Growing up, my siblings and I would watch Marvel shows & movies together because of sharing the same interest. It felt like our sibling bond time, so we still keep it going by watching them together via live stream on Disney Plus over video chat. Siblings can help increase overall mental health for Autistics. My siblings always keep me going to pursue my dreams and always provide great advice to me from their own experiences. Best of all, siblings love and accept as Autistics as best friends for life! My siblings will always be my best friends for life.

Is anyone else a middle child in their family? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Online college education for Autistic students

As graduation season is approaching and already occurred in some places around the country, Autistics students in high school are getting ready to begin a new journey. Today, there are so many routes Autistics can take for their college education. The most important tip to remember is to choose based on strengths and format of college, from learning style to services provided by the college. Ever since beginning my 100% online Bachelor’s degree program as a college student through Purdue University Global, I have been really enjoying my experiences so far. I get to attend class live and see my professors once a week. I complete assignments and take exams on my own time, but by a deadline date. This is good because it provides me structure while working at my own pace. My professors have been really responsive whenever I ask them questions, such as during live class or virtual office. I get feedback from my professors on every assignment once graded. Best of all, I still get to work full time as a paraprofessional for elementary school students with disabilities while growing my education. I shared some personal benefits of attending college  online, so here are a few benefits of attending college online for students on the spectrum:

  1. Private classroom setting: Autistics can stay more focused than in person, traditional classroom setting because of lack of distractions, such as noises.
  2. Controlled and familiar environment: Autistics have the  freedom to choose an environment they want to learn in and avoid the stress of unfamiliar social situations.
  3. Self-pace and flexibility: Autistics can take advantage of working faster if assignments are not difficult and slower when needing more time to work on assignments.

Do you think Autistic students can excel online in their college education just as much as in person? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

The importance of Literacy

Growing up, I struggled with reading comprehension. My language development took so much longer that my comprehension was not always great. I grew over the years by reading books I’m interested in, getting extra support in literacy during my school years, and practicing my reading comprehension skills in workbooks. Here are a few important tips to help Autistics with literacy:

  1. Teachers: help Autistic students pick out books they are interested in while knowing their reading level.
  2. Parents: read books to your Autistic child aloud at home.
    • They can use their auditory to develop vocabulary from books read aloud.
    • Reading aloud helps bond relationship between parents and child as well.
  3. Parents: purchase workbooks that allows your Autistic child to practice literacy skills.
  4. Teachers and Parents: practice various literacy skills with Autistics in school and home. These are some skills that recommend to teach and practice often:
    • matching skills
    • sorting
    • creating scrapbooks
      • This allows Autistics to use their organization skills, develop imagination skills, and practice other various skills in this activity.
    • the alphabet
      • Parents and teachers: use visuals and associations for Autistics to remember the alphabet. This helps improve for Autistics to make connections when reading stories.

Literacy is applied in every aspect of life, from home to school to work. Just like anyone else, Autistics can develop their literacy skills.

Autistic YouTubers

There are so many YouTubers on the Autism spectrum that have their own channel to promote, educate, and advocate for people on the Autism spectrum and for people with other disabilities. Here are some channels to check out that I have watched myself:

The Aspie World: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheAspieWorld

Tips 4 Inclusion: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxRAvrg43SfeQH5EsXI4mrg

Jesse Saperstein: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCypJuEygdud2PEzMRfrs0-w

Purple Ella: https://www.youtube.com/user/purplemumify

Speechless with Carly Fleischmann: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeKKQlMB1NeOLN31_CSJFRQ

Children’s Book about Autism and Friendships

Friendships are so important because friends love and accept you as you. As an Autistic paraprofessional who works with elementary school students with disabilities in various classroom settings, it is important to teach peers in the classroom about Autism. Also, it is important to teach peers in the classroom about being a friend to anyone, including people with disabilities. Here is a brand new children’s book to check out:

This brand new children’s book is by a young, Autism and disabilities advocate named Timothy Rohrer. He advocates about inclusion and educates about Autism and various disabilities. In this brand new book, Timothy transforms into the main character, Timmy. Timmy shares Timothy’s journey on the Autism spectrum and the importance of friendships. If you are interested to read this book, purchase it on Amazon!

Employment

In the world today, we still face an issue about Autistic adults gaining employment, especially for a dream career. A lot has to do with the balance between level of education and work/volunteer experiences. No matter what, workplaces should be focusing on the individual themselves, especially for their talents and strengths that are already part of them. These are some examples of strengths and talents of Autistic individuals when it comes to the workplace:

The good news is that there are a lot of great companies out there in the world already that became inclusive for hiring Autistic adults. Check out this website to find out some inclusive work companies here: https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/companies-for-people-with-autism/

100th Blog Post and Blog Anniversary!

Today is a big day for the blog, “The World of Autism”! I celebrate 100 blog publications now, and its the blog’s 2 year anniversary! Want to know how the blog was created!?

The blog was first created back in spring of 2019. I was thinking of ideas for my social media class when I was attending my last semester of my community college. My mom thought of an idea that I should create a blog about my life experiences being Autistic. Plus, my mom shared a blog would help me improve on my writing skills. That was how the blog came to be!

The blog was originally just about my life experiences being Autistic. Over the past couple of years, it became more than just that. The blog came to be as it is today, thanks to everyone’s’ contribution in the community! By providing various experiences, this helps our world with increasing awareness, appreciation, acceptance, and advocacy.

Get ready for more of the following here on “The World of Autism”: my life experiences being Autistic, guest interviews from everyone in the community who are impacted, guest story blogs from self-advocates, information about Autism, and etc.

Autism Month

Every April is Autism month. Although, everyday is journey for all Autistics. Over the years, the community has been pushing for the world to go from awareness to acceptance and advocacy. Acceptance becomes more than just awareness and appreciation because it becomes everyday living. People learn to embrace others with no judgements. Also, people learn to show compassion, sensitivity, and empathy towards others. Here are some ways to grow on acceptance and advocacy:

  1. The world needs to keep in open mind.
    • Get to know every individual as themselves beyond their diagnosis while keeping in mind. Embrace with love and no judgements.
  2. Make the first approach towards Autistic individuals.
    • EX #1: Parents should encourage peers to say ‘hello”, find out shared interests, and ask to play games with them. This can help create more friendships!
    • EX #2: Workplaces should ask Autistic employees about tasks in the workplace itself that match with their strengths. Communication is key, and this can help create more inclusive work environments!
  3. Develop programs, services, and events to meet needs of Autistic individuals.
    • EX #1: I was in a social skills program created by my speech language pathologist in my middle school years, and I learned to make my own group of best friends.
    • EX #2: Utilize Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) of Autistic students in generalized environments within schools, such as specials, academics, and etc.
  4. Create organizations to bring the community together.
    • EX #1: There are many great organizations throughout the U.S that are designed to meet the needs of families and autistic individuals. Organizations vary state by state.
    • EX #2: Social media can be utilized for support groups for everyone! Bridge the Gap!

Poem #2: “The Malingerer Goes to the Movies”

The poetry collection series continues here on, “The World of Autism”, by collaborating with another self-advocate from the community, Scott Norman Rosenthal! He was a guest on the blog. Scott Norman grew up writing poetry, and he wanted to share some of his own poems here. The 2nd poem in the series is by Scott called, “The Malingerer Goes to the Movies”:

   “The Malingerer Goes to the Movies,”

          (a Dis-Ability Coming-Out  poem,  for Colin Kempner, and Judith Wright)

                                        1.

                         You’re sitting there,

                and it’s getting harder to breathe.

               It feels as if a little man,  like a gnome,

                           has crept up the back of your seat,

                and dropped a net into your head,

                                    over your brain…

    You glance at the woman sitting next to you,

                   and she isn’t there…

    You look at the screen, and it seems unreal,

                   like a bad film…

                        Are you in a theater at all?

                 Are you in a room filled with water?

                     ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE HERE!?   

                                      2.

        Show’s over, you’re out in the parking lot,

                         wondering how to get home…

                                         (Scott Norman Rosenthal, Autumn ’82)

                      

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