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I say YES to 12 new chapters and 365 new episodes

Right before 2018 ended, I read something that brightened my day and forced me to remain in gratitude… Regardless of the challenges and uncertainty we face.

A new year means… 12 new chapters with 365 new episodes…

May every new episode in your life be filled with discoveries and strength to handle the challenges.

For us, the year just started and a very exciting episode is enjoyed… My kid has lost the fear to go underwater in a pool… It is huge. A limitation is lifted. She made the choice. She was capable of making this choice.

The degree of assertiveness, independence and self-worth this new step brings is limitless. Her eyes shine brighter. My heart pounds faster!

 

Moving on with various episodes that have caught my attention…

 

  • PanAfrican Autism Congress in Kenya (April 2019)

I’ve received the most  marvelous news. My abstract –

PARENTAL EMPOWERMENT: KEY TO SURVIVE AUTISM

has been accepted and I have the opportunity to speak at this empowering event.

As the episodes transpire… this one is full of challenges.

Yes, I should be there! Yes, I must share our lessons learned.

But, reality at this moment does not allow me to make this decision and be present. It is not the time. My priorities make me realize this.

That time will come…

 

  • Diverse Abilities, Good Business = Opportunity

Congrats to Mr. Kennedy for writing about a topic we the parents have been talking about for years… Yes, the business world must hear from those in power to validate a fact… Individuals with diverse needs must be a part of the work force – verbal, non-verbal, with physical limitations… If they can do the job, they should apply, they should be interviewed and if it is the right match, they should be hired.

I agree, not everyone with a diagnosis can have a job or start their own business. But those who have the capability or adequate supports must seek the opportunity to open every single door that exists to make it happen.

I have written to business owners and business schools inquiring on the need to create mentorship programs supporting those with disabilities interested in learning more and building a network. So far… NO ANSWER!

My two blogs from October 2018 (before Mr. Kennedy’s piece!!) emphasize this idea that entrepeneurship and inclusion is indeed good business!

 

  • Sad news from Peru 

A young boy with autism drowned — Yes, it happens. But in this case the events that led to the fateful ending are the responsibility of the adults. Why?

The boy eloped – sad and true it happens. Parents can’t be blamed. Talk to our families to understand these dynamics. The family approached the press – NO RESPONSE. The family went to the police – NO RESPONSE.

The boy got on a bus. The bus driver asked for fare money. The boy is non-verbal. A fellow passenger was asked to cover for his fare – she claimed she did not know him and did not pay. Bus driver drops off the boy at the last stop — by the SEA!

3 days later – the boy was found dead.

Peru has a law similar to the Amber Alert we are so familiar with. That bus driver, that lady in the bus had the responsibility to deliver this boy to the closest precinct. They all had the responsibility to give him a chance to continue living.

This was not the case… Another loss to autism, to indifference, to lack of training.

*Training of law enforcement, government employees, the media on Autism and the myriad of diverse abilities, is needed all over the world… Not only in Peru!

 

That I know… this never happened to my daughter. Other barbarities took place, she has PTSD from it (being screamed at, taken out of the classroom, being told to shut up in the midst of a behavior crisis, etc.), and we deal with it the best way we can.

In this case, there is proof. There is a video. This boy got hurt by the adults who are supposed to keep him safe and learning while in school. The boy now has PTSD. A boy who could be taught how to learn will face additional challenges as time passes.

I insist — school districts that refuse to implement ABA based behavior plans and proceed to not train all personnel interacting with students that have an IEP or 504 must be held accountable for their actions.

If there was no footage – nothing would have happened to those employees. I know that. It’s happened before.

UPDATE:  The teacher in question was fired almost immediately after the event, but she later appealed to a tribunal, and they overturned the school’s decision. The teacher has since been re-hired, although she’s been reassigned as a floating teacher in various classrooms throughout the district.

The above update stirs a variety of emotions in me.

  • I first say: Oh, again. No one is being held accountable.
  • Then I think: Wait, this woman abuses a student with an IEP and she gets her job back?
  • And I also realize: She’s lucky this boy was not my child.

These are the abuses that are driving countless parents to home school their children. I will say it everywhere I go – I wish I could home school. My daughter deserves to be in an environment that accepts and respects what she can and can’t do… and help her overcome what limits her now.

 

There are many moments in each episode that make me think, make me react. What is most important, I make the choice to be present, take the good, learn from it and avoid repeating the not so good.

This is it for now…

Tell me about your episodes. What makes your heart skip with joy? What keeps you awake at night?

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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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WE ARE ALL ART – Exhibit

Thomais’ first art exhibit! Soooo proud…

UPDATE 10/5/18 — Thomais’ art piece “Dreams of Brazil” has just been sold!! It will reach the buyer in Puerto Rico soon!!!

A community is built from dedication and commitment…
Parents and Guardians of individuals with special abilities know this….
The exhibit “We Are All Art” opened today thanks to the support of many…
Hotel Preston approached Borderless Arts Tennessee to host this empowering exhibit.
As a community, we all showed up, we cheered, we supported, we raved and were marveled by the creativity…
These activities create opportunity – these adults, artists, know they are capable of creating and selling their creation — taking steps towards independence!
Visit the exhibit – FREE – and purchase some art (Great Presents!!). It is open till Jan. 4, 2019.

We are beyond thankful…
Ms. Brinkworth and Dr. Boone – Thomais’ teachers – your presence is soooo inspiring. Taking from your personal time to support your student!

JC Oden – your willingness to give exposure is so appreciated.

Lori Kissinger and family – your initiative and circle of support!!
All the artists available to inspire… Dee Kimbrell; Kathy Plourde; Jennie Harriman; Yvette Cowden
The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) students joining us and interviewing the artists!! Proud!!

Thrilling moments…

Tennessee Arts Commission Frist Art Museum Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities #Tennessee #Nashville #ArtsThe Nashville Mom Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association – TNHTA
Navah Paskowitz-Asner Shannon Penrod Autism Live The Art of Autism

 

VIDEOS:

WITH TEACHERS 

WITH MTSU STUDENTS

SEEKING INDEPENDENCE

WHERE IS CH. 5? – with fellow artist Torie Perry

HOTEL PRESTON

 

Join Borderless Arts Tennessee and the Teapot Diplomats during the Opening of the Exhibit “WE ARE ALL ART”!

Thomais painting “DREAMS OF BRAZIL” will join the creations of countless marvels with diverse abilities.

Thu, October 4, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT

LOCATION
Hotel Preston
733 Briley Parkway
Nashville, TN 37217

  • All paintings are for sale. Money for the sale of Thomais’s piece will be donated to Borderless Arts Tennessee.

 

Press Release

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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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Oh Chattanooga of our dreams!!!

The Ambassador of Autism Tourism made it to this incredible town one more time… Yep, we could not stay away for long…

She conquered… She surrendered to the marvels of Chattanooga

We had to… The town screams take me, I’m all yours!

How? Why?

The Passage – Water Fall Stairs!

When you have a 10 year old, full of energy, curious yet also with fears… Chattanooga will delight and appease.

Chattanooga will entertain and force you to discover.

I’ve said it before… Nature is the force that drives this incredible town. It guides the interaction a family can create in its open spaces.

A family with a child or adult with diverse abilities can find its little corner or take over every open space it offers.

I will insist… Just own your experience. Plan A and B and C, etc is always a good idea — you know what your kids/adults can or can’t handle. Keep seeking quality of life — whether it is 5 minutes or 5 hours.

Our favorite stops this time:

Tennessee Aquarium

It has been Autism Certified – this means personnel has been trained and consideration, respect, tolerance, empathy is available to all…

The designers of these spaces get all my respect. What a great flow, how hands on everything is and the reminder we must take care of our environment is obvious everywhere.

The Ambassador can show anxiety in new spaces, with new sounds. We are so proud of her… today, it was all welcomed, handled, survived, enjoyed. Many factors were at play – she’s older, she had previous activities to release anxiety (IMAX Theater, pipe cleaners craft and Orbeez) and we talked about it. She did it. She saw everything. She enjoyed it all – even those areas with intense sounds or enclosed spaces.

I’m a proud mom. This is why I strongly urge all of you to visit this spectacular place stat!!!!

  • Sensory Bag

Chattanooga Autism Center

  • This powerful organization in partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium gave free tickets for families to enjoy a movie in the IMAX Theatre and access to the River and Ocean Journeys of the Aquarium! Beyond thankful we are!
  • The cute mouse – Cheesey – made with pipe cleaners – provided hours of entertainment and incredible stories will be told about its valiant approach to life!
  • Creative Discovery Museum – we plan to be there soon!! Was present with a great hands on activity!

Puckett’s

We love their pulled pork!!!

Always good and jovial service… Tasty comfort food. Close to everything. And Cheesey was the star!

Walnut St Bridge

In the heart of it all… So much to offer. Limitless beauty!

Thomais witnessed an accident on the bridge – something her brain had never seen in real life. She was impressed. Shocked. She wanted to help. There were many details that had to be explained – several times!

Exposing our kids to real life is a must. Explaining what can occur. What the expectations are is our obligation as parents. Keep it simple or be as detailed as you need to be. But keep the communication lines open.

 

Riverwalk and The Passage – Water Fall Stairs

 

Our day ended with peace, calm, delight, wonderment and many questions… Beyond thankful!!

When can we return? Why is this place so special? Yes, at times it feels magnetic and you want more…

On the road back home…  a distant rainbow…

the reminder we must keep dreaming and making it all happen…  Why? Because it is possible… Thank you Chattanooga…