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Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute—the inconsistency. Autism can be baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it. The child who lives with autism may look “normal” but his behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult.

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Autism was once labeled an “incurable disorder,” but that notion has crumbled in the face knowledge and understanding that increase even as you read this. Every day, individuals with autism show us that they can overcome, compensate for and otherwise manage many of autism’s most challenging characteristics. Equipping those around our children with simple understanding of autism’s basic elements has a tremendous impact on their ability to journey towards productive, independent adulthood.

First article

Tags: Autism; Childhood; Family Support

May 15, 2013

My Trip to Las Vegas

As we checked in for a flight to Las Vegas, I was pretty nervous. I was worried about take my first plane trip without my family.

After takeoff, the ride was OK. I cracked up watching classic episodes of "Beavis and Butt Head" and to the 80's metal station on satellite radio.

I was happy with our first day in Vegas. I enjoyed eating at the Burger Joint, but wasn't thrilled about seeing the celebrity impersonators posing along the strip. I was a little bummed that we didn't get here a few days earlier because that's when Bon Jovi played at the MGM Grand Arena.

The best part of our trip was going to the Rocking Religion Shop at a strip mall . . . even though tragically the guitar (white marble, courtesy of Fender) on the wall wasn't for sale. Yngwie Malmsteen uses that type of guitar. He's from Sweden.

I was scared as "Living Heck" when we went up the Eiffel Tower. DeSean, one oft he staff who traveled with us, tried to help me calm down, by telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. At the top of the tower, I was shaking and sweating so much I may have lost a couple of pounds. Although I was scared, I was happy to face my fears. I want to thank the staff for helping me do that. I can't wait to tell my family about it.

After about five minutes, DeSean and I went down stairs and across the street where we watched a water works show in front of the Bellagio Hotel. The show was wonderful.

My favorite meal of the trip was at a Chinese restaurant, Fortunes. I had the orange chicken with white rice and root beer to drink. We also went to the Hard Rock Cafe on our final night before heading to New York City.

I enjoyed showing off my moves at the pool to all the ladies, while the song Billie Jean was playing.

I had a little bit of insomnia on our last night in Vegas and I didn't get much sleep. I think I couldn't sleep because I was a little excited to see my parents for the first time in almost a week. This will be my second experience on a plane without my family. I am very happy to be going home. The trip overall was an adventure of a lifetime. The staff were excellent to me. My fellow travelers were good; my favorites were Jean-Michael and Christopher S. I would think about doing this again.

This trip is about the best trip I have ever had in my life.

First article

Tags: Person Centered; Recreation

April 22, 2013

Frightened and Angry

When Governor Cuomo recently signed the budget passed by the New York State Legislature, it included a 4.5 percent cut (or $90 million reduction) in funding for people with developmental disabilities.

It frightens me. What am I supposed to do if I lose my services and won't be able to come to YAI anymore? I’ve been with YAI for 14 years.

I'm part of YAI's Self-Advocacy group, and am a member of the newsletter committee. I also go to Premier HealthCare, where I like my doctors.

The other self-advocates and I wrote to state Senators and Assembly member's to stop the Governor's proposed 6 percent cut ($120 million). Many of us also particapted in rallies, urging that full funding be restored. Despite many Legislators from both parties being against the cuts, the budget was approved with a big cut.

I am angry about it. We need our services. I'm afraid something really bad may happen if people lose their supports.  I am afraid they will get thrown under the bus or something really bad. We need our services. I don't want us going back to the days of Willowbrook, where people were institutionalized.

We need to restore the money for individuals with disabilities because some of our services that we get from staff help us grow into better people. So many individuals with disabilities are speaking up about this. State officials should give us our money back.

First article

Tags: Advocacy; Education; Independant Living; Legislation; Person Centered

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