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The Power of Entrepeneurship and the World of Diverse Abilities

My daughter has a diagnosis… My daughter’s skills are considered to be limited… My daughter cannot interact with others… My daughter cannot do this or that…

That’s what many consider will happen to an individual with a diagnosis or diverse abilities. 

I say… crapola to all of them…

I choose to interact and respect those who support individuals with a diagnosis, who do not see limits, who welcome interaction and who realize everyone can do something.

These are key elements to expose your child, teen and adult to entrepeneurship. Yes, that powerful word that builds skills that will last a lifetime. Above all, developing responsibility and independence.

This is no easy feat. This takes years to practice. It takes tons of patience. It takes the willingness and desire to accept your child will do things differently and achieve success.

Just remember they cannot do it alone. They need support and guidance. They need help. Repetition is key.

What can you do?

Do you as a parent have what it takes to make it happen? To achieve success? Of course you do! We all do have the capacity to work out the kinks of entrepeneurship. And as long as you are ready to seek support form your network and put aside preconceived notions… You will guide your child/teen/adult with diverse abilities to success.

I’ve begun the process. A recent, beyond magnificent, experience as a vendor at Beale Street Art Crawl in Memphis TN confirms this is the road to travel with my daughter and her abilities.

She has an incredible story.

She has talent.

She has charm.

She is curious.

She has family and friends that support her.

She still has a lot to learn.

The challenges she faces at this early stage of her life cannot be prioritized. Yes, they must be handled, managed, survived… but they cannot rule the dynamics of her existence. And the various mainstream organizations we approach cannot only see or emphasize the challenges.

This is why the media, businesses, organizations and downtown commissions need to fully support individuals with diverse abilities — in whichever field they excel at —

Bring on the Big Guns!

For example… the big organizers of well known art shows in big cities must include artists with diverse abilities. They must consider their lack of funds and open the door to include them in their well attended gatherings. The presence of an artist with diverse abilities does not represent an extra expense. On the contrary, it can mean greater media exposure. It can mean compliance with ADA. It can mean the realization that exclusivity does not represent quality.

Myself and countless families welcome the opportunity to discuss in detail the steps to take to make this a reality.

There are many steps we still need to take. But the ones taken so far are beyond meaningful.

Now,  it is up to others to openly support and accept the value many individuals like my daughter bring to their organizations. And I will continue to remind them!

DETAILS:

See/Read her Retrospective

Recent experiences:

PBS Documentary – Featured Guests: Autism Breakthrough to Hope

** READ THIS REPORT FROM THE OECD

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SELF-EMPLOYMENT BY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Background Paper for the OECD Project on Inclusive Entrepreneurship John Kitching Kingston University

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Beale St Art Crawl, Memphis TN = Entrepeneurship and Inclusion

Thomais had a maginificent experience on October 20, 2018. She had her first discovery day as a vendor in a mainstream art show. She received her first lesson in entrepeneurship – creating, being her and receiving payment for her creativity.

This is huge. The repercussions are many for all involved.

Beale Street – Memphis

I had prepared the road by sending a submission – late (lesson #1) – and being extremely persuasive. I had organized pictures of her paintings, present and past experiences and shared the fact Thomais is on the autism spectrum and wants exposure.

I did some research about the location, schedule. Hundreds of scenarios ran thru my mind — what could be fun and what could be too stressful. The fun aspects outweighed the stress and/or challenges.

Lo and behold… a YES was received and Thomais was to have her first experience, as a vendor, in a mainstream art show.

I thought: “Holy cow! I hope this organization understands how meaningful this is. They have chosen to practice inclusion – knowingly or unknowingly.”

Vickie Love – founder and visionary – Beale Street Art Crawl – she convinced the Memphis Downtown Commission and the rest is history!

Video – with Vickie Love – visionary and organizer of Beale Street Art Crawl

There were many details to consider — material, tools, art, money, payment forms, drive, food, set up time, etc. —

I contacted various organizations seeking funds to purchase art material. There was no positive response — but I found out there is an arts reuse organization in Nashville that sells (low, low prices) recycled material! Details here!

Very little would have happened if her uncle Charlie would not have been involved. He’s a beacon in this huge step. He’s an artist. He’s a creator. He’s passionate. He’s a hard worker. And everything he does is full of emotion.

What did we learn?

Our Neighbor Artist!
Also with TM as initials!!!

Keeping it fun is key.

Planning is helpful but must remain flexible. You know when it’s time to go!

Sharing your story, your highs and lows is always welcomed by many. Watch/Read her Retrospective!

Keep smiling even when time passes and no one stops by your table.

Art is subjective… What someone likes, the other person does not…

Social Media rules (Facebook and Twitter) – sharing every step of our trek and discoveries is vital.

The BUYERS!

The reason to buy a piece of art is different for every buyer… There is a story behind every purchase!!

Thomais was so bold and wonderful… She gave away her biz cards. She asked people if they wanted to buy her art!!

The first buyers — got Meowlloween for their daughter!

The second buyer – a young artist who felt moved by Finally Free Niall Horan

The third buyer – an ex-Marine who had lived in Puerto Rico

The fourth buyer – a friend of the family that purchased Meowlloween – he got the We (heart) UFO’s

The fifth buyer – GUMVANA was purchased by a beautiful couple who just reunited after 35yrs!!!
Their initials and another heart was added to the painting!! They willingly paid twice the price!!
#CamilaCabello your song inspired Thomais…
She created a new version of Havana!!!
Beale Street Art Crawl
Victoria Franklin check this!!  Your art show creating magic

The sixth buyer – a mighty supportive young man whose face said it all when he found out Thomais is on the autism spectrum. He asked her to please keep painting…

Will we do it again?  You bet!!! We can’t wait…

Read my entry –  The Power of Entrepeneurship and the World of Diverse Abilities – seeking support from major art organizations and downtown commissions around the country –

Videos:

First Sale

Getting ready

Explaining Gumvana

Almost Last Sale

Discoveries

Art – last 18mths

Getting ready for Memphis!

** READ THIS REPORT FROM THE OECD

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SELF-EMPLOYMENT BY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Background Paper for the OECD Project on Inclusive Entrepreneurship John Kitching Kingston University

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LOVE HAS NO LIMITS series!

Our presence in our relatives’ lives exerts a variety of influences…

The majority is positive as we all learn to handle, address, enjoy, discover, try to understand the diagnosis of autism and its nuances.

Our move to Tennessee has brought forth intense emotions and the reaffirmation that changes keep life vibrant – even when the challenges remain.

My brother is an example of facing the music and finding delight in life and all the love we have towards each other. He opened the doors to his life to us… wanting to be a part of Thomais’ growth and positive influences. As the days pass, the reaffirmation that the love of family has no limits is clearer than ever.

Charlie is an innate artist. Even at this stage of his life where his vision can be problematic (he does not distinguish colors!!).

And Thomais’ pace, flow, way of doing things inspire him to create a series of paintings called

LOVE HAS NO LIMITS!

Ballerinas move and flow in a space and the movement produces hearts.

This is how we decide to go about life.

We’ll move.

We’ll flow.

We’ll keep producing hearts and loving without limits.

 

  • Commissions are accepted – to inquire email: autismhappykingdom@gmail.com

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AUTISM AND MARRIAGE (PARENT PERSPECTIVE)

By Yadira V. Calderon and S.A.

I was too innocent or dumb to realize what happens on TV and the theater does not always happen in real life.

Disney, Hollywood and social media have distorted my perception of real life.

The princess marrying the prince after he rescues her and living happily ever after is not true for many.

I’ve shared my thoughts with a friend and we stress the fact that highlighting the delusion of living a Disney life is VERY different from the perceptions of what represents a good stable marriage. Yes, what many consider the obvious… that world of smiles, comprehension, agreement, dreams being fulfilled, knowing that it takes a lot of work, full support at all times and commitment.

We both agreed, those who do not have a good understanding of the commitment of marriage – with all its possible definitions – may resort to the fairy tale world presented by Disney, Hollywood movies and social media. And we have seen how resilience is not sought and their lives are full of stress, they are in debt and they are never happy with the simple things life can offer.

On the other hand after living in 6 countries and traveling to another 27, I  met many couples who live the ups and downs of marriage, parenting, never ending love, commitment, responsibility, full support.

I always asked:

“How do you do it?”

They answered:

“We made the decision to be together. To be there for each other. No matter what.”

I  told them: “My respect. Keep us inspired. Your story is just like most Disney movies, but real.”

I am relieved I experienced this marvel. I consider this a feat and it should be admired and respected. I got an introduction to the basic tools that may be needed to have a successful marriage.

I could not say anything else. I did not grow up with a mom and a dad raising us. I did not grow up witnessing a husband and a wife making it happen, being at ease with each other, even in the midst of an argument.

Yes, I had discovered that stable couples also have arguments. They have the maturity to confront the situation. Handle the differences. Respect each other’s opinion. Just get along.

And I did not have the opportunity to experience this…

Now… let’s move forward. Let’s add key elements to the princess and prince story…

It’s time to spice this up!!

We all know a couple has strengths and weaknesses.

The problem is… both insist on not accepting the good and the bad of the relationship. For many reasons, their weaknesses become the priority in what is supposed to be a partnership. They keep comparing their life to the Disney movies. Plus, now they have children.

The water in the pot begins to boil because unlike the Disney or Hollywood movies, their children have special needs.

And they quickly discover…

Their children are not accepted by the majority of the population.

Their children are not integrated in schools.

Their children are not considered worthy of an education.

Their children are bullied.

Their children add stress to the marriage.

Their children are not cared for by both parents.

One or both parents do not accept the children with special needs.

One of the parents becomes abusive towards the partner or the children.

One of the parents wants to keep living the single life.

One of the parents rejects the commitment and responsibility.

One of the parents ignores the needs of the family.

One of the parents seeks sex, comfort and care outside of the marriage.

One of the parents leaves.

One of the parents ignores whatever good examples of stable marriages he/she may have witnessed growing up and insists on living life like Disney, Hollywood or social media dictate.

In some families, the parents decide to stay together, live separate lives and present a “united” front for the children and society while experiencing horrendous moments – harmful for all.

What I’ve described above is happening in countless households raising children with special needs.

This is happening in all socio-economic groups. Money and race do not guarantee marriage stability.

Not even age can provide assurance that a couple will remain together.

No doubt, there are many families that have both mom and dad caring for and living life regardless of the challenges presented by the diagnosis.  But in the world I live in, these are becoming less and less.

These are difficult times we live in.

These are times where common sense does not prevail.

I have not seen one single family succeeding in reuniting after going through therapy.

I do not have answers to this dilemma.

I read the scientific research and I find it unrealistic, not fitting the unwritten equation of what life is about in a household raising/caring for a child/teen/adult with severe autism, with behavior crisis, aggressive, wearing diapers (teen and adults), not being capable of handling social situations, sick, with organ failure, not having access to a variety of services that could provide some respite and worse, not having the financial resources to pay for respite.

And we all know, there aren’t enough organizations or funds that could actually support the high numbers of families needing help.

What to do?

Join me and break loose your dependence on Disney, Hollywood and social media.

Shatter their myth of marriage…

Demand shows and movies that will provide answers…

Shows that will make you say…

“Wow, that’s exactly how I’ve lived it. It’s been tough. I’m surviving. Others have it easier or tougher than I do.”

How can you help?

Let’s keep the dialogue open.

Let’s support each other.

Help us create TV or movies that are relatable, realistic, at times crude, not distorted…

I had many questions and I organized a parent panel –

Special Needs and Marriage (a parent perspective)

Read the useful posts in the link above.

 

Art by Thomais Moshopoulos –  Weddings of Love – 2018

My daughter is living the consequences of our family separating six years ago. It has not been easy.

She can now express how she feels about it. Her art always tells me what she wants and how damaging Disney and Hollywood can be — it is not always like this!!  But, I remain calm.

I explain to her the basics of relationships. She’s 10 after all and she has tons to learn. I believe in keeping her safe, loved and exposed to a variety of experiences that will in the future help her make wise decisions.

I’ll keep trying.

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TOP 40 THINGS ABOUT THOMAIS

Yes, cognition, learning, sharing, demonstrating knowledge acquired, remembering, writing about it, understanding her place in society, acknowledging likes and dislikes… and being funny!

These are all a reality now.

I, the parent, did not ask for this exercise. She started it by herself. She did not ask me what to write. She’s been surprising me all over again.

I know my daughter but to realize she knows herself is priceless.

How did she achieve this? By exposing her to a variety of experiences. By allowing her to fail. By not allowing autism and its challenges to dictate what will occur at home or in the community.

In less than 2 hrs, she wrote 17 facts about herself.

Some highlights:

  1.  Thomais was born in Greece.
  2. Thomais is a loud farter plus a belcher.
  3. Thomais can weigh up to 82, 83 or 84 pounds.
  4. Thomais loves animals of all kind.
  5. Thomais always wants to go to Scotland to see the Loch Ness Monster.
  6. Thomais is a good dancer and twerker.
  7. Thomais loves to sing her favorite songs – Better when I’m dancing; Roar; Stitches; Nothing holding me back; Poker Face; When I’m gone; I can see a rainbow; Bad romance; Diamonds; Waka-Waka
  8. Thomais is the best prankster.
  9. Thomais loves to watch videos about the three Cunard Queens – Queen  Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth (all cruise ships)
  10. Thomais loves to talk about the R.M.S. Titanic over and over (headaching to everyone)
  11. Thomais loves to eat green beans, broccoli, banana, apple, chicken with  bone, white rice, macaroni, ice cream, whip cream – with chocolate chips, chocolate chips, M&M’s.
  12. Thomais hates to eat burger, egg plant, zucchini, meat balls.
  13. Thomais met Dakota Fakota Fanning in NYC.
  14. Thomais is Shawn Mendes #1 FAN!!
  15. Thomais sometimes says ain’t when she’s singing.
  16. Thomais mom is sometimes so BOSSY!
  17. Thomais hates homework.
  18. Thomais really misses her dad.
  19. Thomais has lots of BFF’s — E, G, L, M and K
  20. Thomais dad is funny, fund and kind. Her mom is over protective, bossy and sometimes nice.

 

She’s 10. Presently, the world is all about her.

I keep reminding her others must be included.

This is a great activity for any kid.

It is an opportunity to keep the conversation going and avoid surprises.

More soon. Enjoy!