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The Mighty Article

I wrote an article for The Mighty recently, it’s a mashup of posts that appeared here from time to time – Christos’ Greatest Hits. The Mighty is a team of writers, editors, producers, developers who have worked at a lot of big media companies (The New York Times, ABC News, NBC News, MSNBC, MTV, TMZ, Warner Brothers, AOL, The Huffington Post to name a few) who decided to team up and make a company more than just business. They created a platform for people to share stories and help each other. I am so grateful to be part of this family.

You can read it here: 10 Confessions of an Autism Sister

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UPDATE: 17 June 2015

Humbled. Christos’ story is being heard.
Shares: 316+
Likes: 1037+
& lovely comments from beautiful people.
http://themighty.com/author/dora-perera/

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King of Darts

My Christos has been learning how to play darts at school & apparently he’s pretty awesome at it!

 

 

Don’t stereotype, learn about the talents our kids have, don’t limit their potential with discrimination and stigma.

Learn about Autism.

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On the Radar – First Responder Training

A group of law enforcement officers and first responders gathered in Homewood, to hear and learn about how they can better interact with people on the Autism spectrum.

11079653_1596759410564836_266828026138486476_nDennis Debbaudt, law enforcement trainer, has some very helpful tips that don’t only benefit officers but civilians as well. During the training, the officers learned how to identify the many, many signs of Autism. Police officers, fire fighters, teachers, everyone needs to be aware of Autism. Learning how to identify it and how to deal with it in a way which benefits what you are trying to achieve as well as with respect to the other person is the most important factor here.

Ask your employer to offer you training if you are in constant interaction with members of the public in your line of work.

Here are some things you can be aware of whether you are an officer, employee, employer, customer or just a stranger sitting at the next table or on the bus.

Sometimes they won’t initiate conversation, especially if they are in distress, or in a loud place. Don’t stare.

Speak slowly and use simple language. You may notice that the person isn’t making eye contact when approaching you or talking to you, or maybe taking a while longer to reply, make sure you have been clear in what you have said. Short and to the point is how our kids like it.

Use concrete terms.

Repeat simple questions. You may not get a response, you may have someone walk off, you may get a full on conversation. You never know with the spectrum, so you need to be prepared for all situations. Things you may consider rude coming from any other customer won’t be the same with someone on the spectrum.

Allow time for response.

Do not attempt to physically block self-stimulating behaviour. It might be a twitch, a flap, a noise, shaking, it could be anything. They are not going to attack you, that’s just how they move. You would try and physically restrict someone scratching, sneezing. It’s a physical reaction they cannot control.

Well done to the officers, a real tribute to make a commitment to get this training.

Educate yourselves about Autism.

Share your knowledge and experience with others, with your family. You can touch, change another persons life just by not staring at them, with a single work, or smile.

So smile, and learn about Autism.

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On the Radar – Microsoft

image2Microsoft has launched a pilot programme to hire people with Autism, in full-time roles. They are offering 10 places on a pilot scheme based at the Redmond headquarters.

One in 68 children are affected by Autism. It only takes one kid to make a difference. That kid was senior executive Mary Ellen Smith’s 19-year-old son who said: “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft… It’s a talent pool that we want to continue to bring to Microsoft.”

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has pioneered in the Autism field.

In 2001, Microsoft added coverage to its self-funded insurance plan to cover a pricey but promising therapy for autistic children. It started in the 90’s when everyone was talking Autism and vaccines. In 1999, Microsoft employee Jon Rosenberg and seven others, the Gang of Eight as they are known, who were raising kids with autism, asked the firm about applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy; it was still new this and had positive treatment results. In the US, it would cost $60,000 a year or more, without insurance coverage.

Then the rest followed; Apple, Intel, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Qualcomm.

image1The tech industry is leading the way in bringing awareness about Autism and  also in developing their products in an Autism-friendly way.

Specialisterne, the recruitment firm in charge of the new hiring scheme, operates in Denmark and the UK to promote the skills of people with Autism for specific vacancies.

Firms worth millions making simple adjustments paving the way for the rest. Just because someone has Autism doesn’t mean they cannot contribute to society, economy, or the workplace. We need to make it possible for them, we need to open the doors to this.

If you own a business, think about hiring someone on the spectrum. Tap into this pool of potential with targeted descriptions, clear demands and a touch of humanity. Just because they can’t speak clearly or exchange pleasantries don’t write them off. Chances are, you’ve already worked with someone who is on the spectrum, one in 68 are pretty slim odds. Making job interviews more accessible, providing support, giving clear instructions and not turning the workplace into a playground can help integrate Autism into the workplace.

Learn about Autism.