Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 6 - Page 60

CUMMINGS AND GOINGS T his ZOOM is all about love and relationships. There are so many types of relationships, and one that is important to us is faith. Faith constitutes a vast spectrum. Faith is a personal individual journey that may or may not be religious-based. For Conner and I, our FAITH journey starts on Sundays with our own special ritual. Every Sunday, Conner and I watch Joel Osteen together on television. Conner is a huge Joel Osteen fan and at times even quotes him, both verbally and in his writings. We actually saw Joel Osteen speak once. Afterwards, we stood in line to meet him. No pictures were allowed, and you were only supposed to say hello, shake hands and keep moving. Conner had a different idea in mind when it was his turn to meet him. Conner went to pull a Conquer for Conner blog card from his pocket to give to Mr. Osteen, and within a split second, security surrounded him. I pushed my way to Conner. He started stimming and was understandably upset and confused. Joel Osteen, realizing at least somewhat what was going on, motioned to security to step back. He smiled at Conner and asked him to repeat himself. Conner told him, “My name is Conner Cummings; I want to make a difference and make the world a better place,” and 60 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses he gave Joel his card. Joel smiled again and asked Conner, “Do you want me to read this?” And Conner said, “Yes, please. God already knows about it.” Then Joel shook Conner’s hand, holding it for a moment in both of his own, and told him how nice it was to meet him. Joel then looked at me and said, “Your son is a blessing!” At that point we were motioned by security to move on. Conner had wanted to meet Joel Osteen, and he did – Conner’s way! Conner’s favorite words are believe and faith. Perhaps that is why we were asked by the Autism Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) to reach out to the vast faith communities to help make them inclusive. ASNV receives numerous phone calls asking where families or individuals can go to church, temple, hall, community, nature or whatever place their belief may be practiced. One issue that seems to cross all paths is that attending can be difficult for children and adults on the spectrum. They want to attend, yet rarely do they feel comfortable. Our job, led by Conner and a group of autistic individuals, is not to solve every issue but to educate to the best of our abilities and learn together while we tackle this task. separate room where the kids can move around as needed but still listen to and/or watch the service through speakers or on a screen. Some are going the extra mile and training the day care volunteers to work with our children. We have seen handouts and/or the speakers’ words being displayed on a screen so that those who need it can both view and hear the words being An example of my son’s faith. While in the Disney store, Tinker Bell asked over the intercom for everyone to help save magic... spoken. Seating preferences with easy entrance and exit access is another accommodation being made. The goal is to help ensure that all of us feel welcomed, valued and comfortable. Conner and I both believe and have faith that it is a goal that hopefully, someday, will be in every aspect of our lives! Sharon Cummings Executive Director/Co-Publisher & Founder zoomautism@gmail.com Some faith communities already seem to have it right, and we will be learning from them what does and does not work. A few modifications that have seemed helpful so far include a ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 61