Evening event with Temple Grandin

Faces 4 Autism, an Autism organization in south NJ, hosted an evening event with Dr.Temple Grandin, on Tuesday, December 17th. Temple Grandin is an incredible woman who lives with Autism. She is an animal science professor at the University of Colorado, creates engineer designs for meat plants all over the U.S, and performs keynote speeches about animal science and Autism.

I first learned about Temple Grandin when I was in 6th grade. I watched her documentary on HBO with my family and family friend at my family friend’s house. After learning about her through her documentary, she has been my role model. Through her documentary and her various books that I have read, she demonstrates about living with a unique mind. She teaches to everyone that she is an individual like everyone else, who is living in the world that we live in, in her own way.

Meeting my role model was incredible and unforgettable!!! She was an outstanding speaker! That evening, she presented about the importance of developing various skills and interests for careers and employment, for individuals living with Autism. She has a great sense of humor, in which she demonstrated a lot throughout her presentation. She has excellent knowledge of engineer design for meat plant factories. Her explanations about the need in the education system for teaching various hands-on skills, when teaching to individuals with Autism, is so true. I love her so much!

Thank you Faces 4 Autism for an amazing, evening event! If you want to follow Faces 4 Autism, they can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, if you want to learn more about Faces 4 Autism as an Autism organization, here is their website: https://faces4autism.org/

Autism books

There are so many kinds of books published about living with Autism, written by individuals living with Autism themselves to professionals who work with this population. Down below is a list of books I recommend reading, based on what I have read throughout the years. I reread these books because I love them so much, and they remind me about myself:

  1. Different, Not Less: Ultimate Success Stories from People with Autism and Asperger’s by Temple Grandin, Tony Attwood (Foreword)
  2. Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
  3. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
  4. Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann and Carly Fleischmann
  5. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida
  6. Autistic Me by Amanda Hochfelder-Santi

All of these stories share the message of being accepted as individuals like everyone else, while they all still face challenges and triumphs in their lives. If you want to check out more stories about Autism, there are more recommended readings about Autism on my blog page, “Books about Autism”.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Everyone has a lot to be thankful about not just on this day, but everyday. As for me, I am thankful about my life: the milestones and challenges, the good and bad experiences, friends and family, and etc. Individuals living with Autism are just as thankful as everyone else, especially for all that everyone does for them.

However, holidays like this one are not always easy to get through, depending where on the Autism spectrum the individual lives through. Every individual living with Autism is different for how they think and react in general in an environment, including on a holiday like Thanksgiving. One of the ways to help an individual living with Autism through this holiday is using a visual board. A visual board, such as this one below, can be very helpful: from learning to transition from one activity to the next, and to increase communication.

Thanksgiving visual board!

There are many more ways people can do something that an individual living with Autism will be thankful for you about. Check out these suggestions below to make this holiday special and memorable for all living with Autism.

NJ Autism Think Tank Group

As of September 2019, I have been a member of the NJ Autism Think Tank Group. It is an incredible, Autism committee group in which is making a difference for individuals living with Autism through policy initiatives and research from various kinds of educators throughout the state of NJ, the USA, and around the world. I was invited to become a member of this committee group through my education professors who I had for my education courses at my college. They thought about me because they knew I could continue to help lives of families and individuals living with Autism through my own life living with Autism.

The past couple of months have been amazing so far with the committee group. It’s been wonderful getting to know various kinds of educators! I have been learning the process that it takes into policy initiatives and continue to learn about Autism in the education system through members of the committee. For example, I learned that for action to take place, it takes time, no matter how long it takes. Also, it takes dedication to have the action occur. Through this group, we are coming up with solutions to problems or challenges that lives of individuals with Autism are still facing in our society today, by our actions as a team. I look forward to continue networking and collaborating with members of this group to make an impact on lives of individuals living with Autism.

Autism Speaks 2014 Campaign Commercial: MSSNG

It is the 5 year anniversary in which I was a model in for the well known organization, “Autism Speaks”. Back in 2014, when I was 16 years old, I was chosen to be a model for their campaign commercial through an email that my dad received at work. An employee from Autism Speaks emailed my dad about how much they loved my blog story that I wrote for them, so they offered for me to participate as a model in their campaign commercial. Of course I took the opportunity!! I modeled for their campaign commercial in Sliver Cups Studios in Queens, NY on November 23rd, 2014. I will always remember that day for the rest of my life!!! To learn more about the purpose of this campaign commercial I modeled in, please click this link here: https://www.mss.ng

Please check out the MSSNG campaign commercial I was in through the video here below!

I was the only woman featured in the Autism Speaks “MSSNG” Campaign Commercial!

Sensory Seeking and Sensory Sensitivity

When it comes to living with Autism, individuals including myself can display sensory seeking and/or sensory sensitivity. Demonstrating one of these or both are signs/symptoms of living with Autism. In the picture above, it provides various examples of sensory seeking and sensory sensitivities that could occur for individuals living with Autism.

Although, not everyone living with Autism will show the same kind of sensory sensitives and/or sensory seekings, so keep that in mind. As for me, I experienced a lot of sensory sensitivities. For example, back in NY, whenever my parents took me into stores for shopping, I went through meltdowns. Please know that highly, sensory sensitive, individuals could have an overpower reaction to the environment. For instance, they may not like the lights in the store, the amount of people in the store, or even the sounds and smells in the store. Recommendation for all who are with an individual living with Autism is that to take them to a smaller store, not large stores. Everyone should take note in their mind about their individual living with Autism, especially in the environment that they are in, because you will notice what makes them seek for what they want or what they do not want (due to their sensitives).

No matter what the individual living with Autism is displaying, everyone should learn, understand, appreciate, and accept their sensory seeking and/or sensory sensitives. For parents, understand that your sensitive child/children may feel, see, or hear things that you do not. For all helping an individual living with Autism, make sure to teach them to express how they feel. Communication is valuable and important to understand each other as human beings. Also, to use positive language; This will send messages to the individual living with Autism to help them learn to appreciate their unique being. It’s all about working together; It takes a community to help an individual living with Autism.

Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns

Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns are a couple of signs/symptoms that are well known for people living with Autism. They may be similar, in terms of how the individual’s self-control is affected. However, they are completely different, based on the environment and the individual themselves, like their personality as an example. As an individual living with Autism and as a Paraprofessional, I’ve experienced these myself and through students living with Autism.

Temper Tantrums are outbursts in which people with Autism have some control of their behavior. For most of the time, temper tantrums occur if someone is trying to communicate something that they want or need. For example, if my parents did not understand what I kept trying to communicate, it would me make feel frustrated that I would have a temper tantrum as a result. This does not occur for me as often any more as it did in the past. Teaching ways to control our emotions is valuable to overcome experiences of Temper Tantrums.

Meltdowns are outbursts in which people with Autism have no control of their behavior. It takes longer time to recover from meltdowns than from temper tantrums. My meltdowns occurred whenever I faced a lot of anxiety and anger. I used to even throw objects, like my stuff animals or pillows from my bed, because I was just so done with the world around me. I would scream and yell because I had enough with the situation that was occurring or the environment. Everything became overwhelming that I would shutdown. On the other hand, I refused to let anyone see me so upset and angry, because I knew others were upset and angry at me as it was. I would run away somewhere to be alone, so that I can calm myself down. I needed my space to calm down and relax. It is better off to take a break and recover to learn from the situation(s).

No matter what an individual with Autism is going through, a Temper Tantrum/Meltdown, please remember to not give up on us. The one thing that for someone living with Autism always wants and needs is your love and support, whatever your their parent, educator, and etc. Please continue to help with these because we can grow a lot in our own ways.

Halloween

Halloween can be fun and scary! From watching horror movies to dressing up as monsters/villains as examples, it can be an interesting holiday. On the other hand, it can be mostly scary for people living with Autism.

On Halloween, there is a lot that has to be prepared for someone living with Autism to enjoy the day. The top 10 suggestions and advice for a successful Halloween are provided in the photo above. Although, the number one important rule to always remember is to understand your child or student first; Some things can work for some people living with Autism and some not. Not all of the suggestions will work for your child or student, but the ones above are suggested because they can commonly help those living with Autism.

When it comes to Halloween for me, I always had a planned trick or treat route when it came to walking around with my siblings in my community. My family and I would discuss about our planned route before leaving our house. Also, I learned throughout the years about dressing up as anything I wanted to. It takes time to teach someone living with Autism to be imaginative, like when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, but do not give up on us! For example, I had years in which I created my own costumes, such as being Captain America, since I love Marvel movies. As mentioned, do not give up on modeling creativity and imagination because we can be so creative and imaginative. People living with Autism can be very, creative individuals than people think.

For parents, educators, and anyone else helping individuals living with Autism, please understand our personal needs and preferences. They are important for a successful Halloween and for success everyday. Anything you do will make a difference for someone living with Autism.

Disability Employment Awareness: My Employment Story

Every year in October, it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. During this month, special education organizations and services all over the country and world are continuing their efforts to increase employment for people living with disabilities, as well as spread awareness about the importance of having employment. In honor of this, I will share about how I made my way towards my career: Paraprofessional/Teacher Assistant.

When I started high school, I was a volunteer through a volunteer organization in my town called, ” Marlboro TAC”. Through this organization, it taught me the importance of helping in the community, as well helped me develop skills for my career. During my senior year of high school, I received an email one day about volunteering in an elementary school in my town for a before and after care program that they provide. I was so interested, since I wanted to expand my experiences working with students. Also, I knew this would help me for my future career. That year made me develop a love of working with elementary school students!

Before I attended college, and at the end of my senior year of high school, I found out from the teachers of the before and after care program in the elementary school I was volunteering for that they would help me towards getting a job with the program. They knew I was interested in working in the education field. Through lots of recommendations, including from the area manager and a site director/job coach of the before and after care program, I was happy to get hired to work as a Teacher Assistant for the program. Fast forward with time, I still work with this program, and I am into my 4th school year now! I love teaching elementary students and witnessing their growth over the school years.

In addition, I started searching for full time employment in my last year of college, since my goal was to become a Paraprofessional/Teacher Assistant as my career. I was applying for jobs every month, and I kept a whole spreadsheet, including pictures of my applications for all the jobs I applied for. This was how dedicated I was. Plus, through the career and leadership department at my college, I gained various experiences that geared me toward my career today. I did field experience work for my future career in my town’s school district in my last year of college. One of the schools I did it in was my first, public elementary school that I attended, and it was an amazing experience! I worked with very supportive and wonderful teachers! All of experiences so far helped me gain a job, back in the summer of this year. I went through an interview for that summer job, and was happily offered the day before I graduated from college! I worked a Paraprofessional in a school district for their extended school year program.

While I working that job for the summer, I continued to apply for jobs and even went through interviews almost every week. My goal was still to gain full time employment as a Paraprofessional/Teacher Assistant. I was fortunate about all of my interview experiences, since I felt like I improved on my interview skills each time. I learned from my interview days that I had to stick with being myself and to do my best to provide short, detailed information of my experiences with children. My very last interview of this summer ended up being the one I got hired for. I worked so hard and it finally paid off! Officially, I am now part of a school district as a Paraprofessional! I am enjoying my experiences and love my career as a Paraprofessional! You may read my blog story, “A Paraprofessional living with Autism”, in which I shared about my summer job. In this story, you now have read more detailed and updated experiences that I went through to gain my career today.

I encourage families and all kinds of educators to continue their efforts to increase interests and skills into people living with disabilities. School districts could provide life skills and social skills programs to help explore interests and skills into students living with disabilities. This month should not be the only time we spread awareness about the importance of employment. Awareness and taking action to increase employment for people living with disabilities should be everyday!

This my mantra towards my career and my professional work as a keynote speaker/self-advocate. I don’t give up on what I love to do and want to do in life.

FACES 4 Autism organization event: An evening with Temple Grandin

FACES 4 Autism is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and support of children with Autism and their families. This organization is located in the south New Jersey areas. They hold monthly meetings, including featured guest speakers on various topics with child care provided. Also, they host fun, family activities and events, filled with network of families and professionals. Plus, they have an online support group on Facebook called,“FACES 4 Autism Support Group”. That was just a little, summary about this amazing, Autism organization in south New Jersey. If you would like to know more about this organization, you can visit their website through this link here: https://faces4autism.org/

FACES 4 Autism will be hosting an extraordinary event on Tuesday, December 17th, 2019! Their keynote speaker for that evening is going to be Temple Grandin, a well-known, individual living with Autism. For the evening, she will be presenting about the importance of developing skills and abilities towards career paths for people living with disabilities. To learn more about Temple Grandin, please see the photo with the caption below. If you are interested in attending this one of a kind event, please click on the link here to order your tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-dr-temple-grandin-tickets-74370202277

I will be attending this event, so I hope to see you there!

Temple Grandin: a well-known individual living with Autism who works as a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, as well as a consultant to livestock industry on animal behavior, and is an Autism advocate & speaker. She authored various books about animal behavior and about Autism. She is one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to document the insights she gained from her personal experience of autism.
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