Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 48

Q&A “My hands did not work well, and most fine motor skills were difficult to impossible for me. I had therapy for years in school and private. I now can use my hands. At age 29 I volunteer, teaching others how to use their hands to be able to button their clothes, zip a jacket, comb their own hair. I can now do almost anything with my hands, and so can you.” ~ Toya of Huntington Beach, CA W alt Disney once said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me ... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” For this issue, we asked our experts: “ Tell us about an obstacle that became an opportunity.” “I was bullied at school every day. They would take my lunch money or my lunch. Called me names so the other kids would laugh. I had a great coach teacher I liked. I finally told him what was happening. He worked with me after school with sports. Most I did not like, except golf. I am good at golf. Really good! In fact, the school golf team asked me to join. Just what I always wanted. I said no. I started a golf camp for kids who are not good at sports but want to be. I only have a few so far, but it is working. We are friends now, and we play golf together.” ~ Matt, 17, Buffalo, NY passion, which is Disney. Two years later it is one of our largest clubs, and all types of kids at school belong.” `~ Cali, 15, of Connecticut. “Eye contact, nemesis of the amygdala! My parents always thought I was lying and punished me. A teacher encouraged me to look up instead of keeping my gaze down and shuffling along the hallways. But eye contact is horrific. I try to glance at a face, making brief eye contact. I have no problem looking into infant eyes or in my dog’s eyes. I decided I could do this. I practiced looking into my service dog’s big brown eyes and into young children’s eyes. Employment? Socially awkward! I like customer service. Encounters are quick. I smile with every facial muscle. I use my scripts. People smile back. They can be grumpy, pre-occupied, sad. I smile, make eye contact. They smile. The fear erupting in me is balanced by their reciprocal smiles. I express that sense of safety into my face and share both a smile—and eye contact. Affirming. I am astounded at the simplicity, the power, of this simple action.” ~ CarolAnn Edscorn “I am diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which means most of my organs don’t get enough energy to function. I have multiple tubes and lines, I’ve had many hospital stays, and I spent 15 months in a nursing home—it’s a pretty rotten experience. But I’ve learned a lot, too. I’ve educated many doctors and nurses about autism (intentionally or not). I’m more flexible, bolder in my advocacy, and far better with organization! I’m uniquely able to support autistic friends when they face medical situations. Because of my worst hospital experiences, I found a gaping hole where autism advocacy is desperately needed, so now I use my voice to makes others aware (like I’m doing right now with you!). I’ve learned that something as awful as mito is still an opportunity to do good—and whether I give up or stand up and advocate is really my choice.” ~ Lydia Wayman “I had no friends at home or school. I was lonely and sad. I started a club at school to discuss my 48 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 49