Autism Acceptance Month Day #14 – Bullying is a public school crisis that has been occuring for decades. Physical and Mental

In the second half of the subsubseries,we take a look into the realm of bullying. Yesterday we looked at it in the form of advances in technology. Today, we look at the physical and mental bullying aspects.

As I begun yesterday’s post of bullying being portrayed in film. We also covered in the realm of Cyberbullying. However there is still a lot of physical and mental bullying occuring in not only schools but by adults alike. We’ll explore the adulthood bullying tomorrow.

We are ever made aware of bullying nowadays because of the previlance of surveillance cameras, cell phones and social media. While the eyes aren’t everywhere, it’s usage of technology makes it easier to make it public. Reasons for bullying can be complicated and cumbersome. The instigator may have a rough home life of lifestyle, as can the victim. A critical part of what can be an irritant in individuals on the spectrum is the simple fact that things are black and white, taken literally so to speak.

A flash back of this occurred to me recently. My family frequently dines out at an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood. It is a family owned business, of which their son is employed as a waiter. We have had several instances of him being our waiter. One of the occurrences, when we were making conversation when he came back to check on our meals. He said something I took serious. He then said you can’t ever take a joke. It brought back some memories of not only my junior high years z but my senior high years as well. It also brought forth the instances of where I answered questions posed to me truthfully, however they weren’t intended to be a so.

One familiar instance I recall was the point where I was asked the size of my genitals. I would honestly answer with the correct length and then be kicked in the leg. There were several situations where I was depantsed, hit, kicked, abused shoved in a locker and even robbed of my lunch money, all through no fault of my own. Nonetheless by the time I graduated from high school many of those instigators took responsibility for their actions and we ended the last two years of high school associating frequently.

I have seen some of my former peers after graduation and some I am even friends with on Facebook. However, there are some that have been incarcerated, some deceased and others that are constantly in the local media for one thing or another. Some sadly have completed a suicide and some have moved away.

Nonetheless I know I have overcome those days and look forward to the ones to come. I like myself for who and what I am, not what someone defines me. There’s a saying that goes I define Autism, it doesn’t define me.

Starting next week we’ll be discussing independence and the success and needs of that realm. Tomorrow will bring forth the issues of abuse, neglect and grooming of individuals on the spectrum.

Autism Acceptance Month – Day #8: The Hiram G Andrews Center, Pennsylvania Disability and Autism Asset

In 2001 while in a Residential Treatment Facility, I learned a lot about the Hiram G Andrews Center in Johnstown Pennsylan-i-a and began exploring the possibility of attendance. It would be a long road ahead of me and many cheerleaders to advocate for the admission process to be done.

That year I was connected with the state agency that operates the school, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Plans were made for a tour that summer. I went and fell in love with the campus, 12 acres – barrier free. Only the state Farm show complex is the only larger Commonwealth facility under roof and barrier free.

Nonetheless I began the process of admission that winter with the plans to attend the school for evaluation the following summer. However, my past inappropriate behavior presented roadblocks from this occuring. With the guidance of several, including my parents – my biggest advocate ever and lots of extra time. I received a phone call in July 2004 that admission for an vocational evaluation was granted and I graciously accepted the offer and attended in October 2004.

During this process, I took a battery of tests, learned public transportation, and sampled career areas. My first preference was architectural drawing. However this was eliminated because I spent a lengthy time processing the material. The last preference was Retail. I didn’t like it because it was too menial. My choice was General Office Clerk, known today as Office Technology. I was granted admission on May 2, 2005 and graduated successful on April 28, 2006

While there I was socially akward to a degree. Having a roommate did help the process some, and a student across the hall in my dorm is on the spectrum. While I did not develop the friendships I longed for, I did run into some cool students that advocated for me including dorm officers. I did lack in areas of hygiene and cleanliness. However I did acquire the skill of expanding my usage of transportation to include Intercity passenger rail to go visit my sister.

Since 2006, services have been enhanced. While there was a cognitive skills enhancement program (CSEP), it has been enhanced by dividing it into three tiers. Access to and from campus has been controlled by a key card system. During my stay there it was discussed about installing security cameras, this has been done. The first semester I attended, smoking was permitted to occur in selected dormitories, including the one that I resided in. However this was stopped and you were free to smoke anywhere outside. This has been changed in recent years by limiting this to shelters strategically placed around campus.

Enhancements specific for individuals with autism include a group specifically for issues related to the needs of individuals on the spectrum. Fundamentals of transportation is more enhanced and is mandatory. Many of the language of the elements of the center has been changed to reflect the current norm. Dormitories are called halls, the health clinic is now called the wellness center, Recreation is now called enrichment and is more involved in the students social time.

In closing, this school is perceived to serve individuals with physical limitations z while it will continue to do so, it should not be overlooked as a place to start that post secondary journey. While I did go on some time later to Community college, which will be to tomorrow’s story, it is definitely a good start. By the way, while I do have a Associates degree, I utilize the skills I acquired at HGA on a consistent basis in my employment.

Autism Acceptance Month – Day #2: Light it up blue day;

Note: Today is #LightItUpBlue Day for Autism Acceptance Month. I have contributed a poem as a backseat gesture of bring Awareness to this blog.

I HAVE AUTISM

I have autism…but it shouldn’t define me.
By my life or who I want to be.
What I wear or by my appearance of my own body.
It doesn’t matter, if I take care of it and not look shoddy.

I have autism…some have it harder than others
Each person’s severity differs from another’s
Regardless we all can think for ourselves.
And believe it or not, we don’t all line things up on shelves.

I have autism… and I have rights
Where I want to go, live and how I spend my nights
What I want to do in life, go to school, get a job and even drive.
It shouldn’t matter what I want if I stay alive.

I have autism…and I should be treated like the adult I am.
To do what I want as I want, if I am able, then I can.
Go places I never dreamed of, explore new places.
Even explore that golden dream or define my own spaces.

I have autism…and I sometimes I get portrayed badly in the media.
But a lot of us can still and can use an encyclopedia.
Many of us don’t own a gun nor do we want to commit a crime.
For we know of much better ways to spend our time
I have autism…and I have quirks
Sometimes we make odd jerks and smirks.
I don’t mean it, we just don’t know how to process the senses around us.
I am just having a difficult time and don’t mean to cause a fuss.

I have autism…and I seem antisocial.
However, that is far from the case; I want to be social.
I fear the initial contact and want to get to know you.
For all I want is someone to pay attention and talk to.

I have autism…I am different.
But we are perceived as indifferent.
If you met one person on the spectrum,
Then you just met just that, a person on the spectrum.

I have autism…for it is just is what is defined as, a spectrum.
For in many places we don’t seem to fit with the right kind of system
It exhibits a broad range of behavior, some very light and some very severe.
But what should matter most is that we all want to persevere.

I have autism…but it shouldn’t define me.
By my life or who I want to be.
All I want is for you to accept me.
For who and what I want to be.