by Marina Romanelli
Autism Acceptance Month is coming up and I’ve been asked to give a couple of my experiences here, all that involve Autism Acceptance.
The first thing is our ETP (Employment Training Program). I went to it back when it was called Career College. It was a 9-month program. Career College taught me how to be more independent. I set up my rides (I use a ride-share service to get to and from work) and make doctor appointments. I wash and dry my clothes, I can cook for myself when I need to, and that program helped land me the best job. I loved every second of it.
Working as an adult with autism has its challenges. Sometimes, I can get overwhelmed by the amount of work on my plate. I often work so hard or fast that I can end up skipping things (unintentionally, and that never works out in my favor). I break it down into parts, but sometimes that can be difficult. My supervisor has given me many tools to try and use to help me stay calm, i.e., checklists (online and printed copies). She sends me emails with the name of my tasks as headers so I know what I’m looking for. She sometimes even pulls me aside and talks to me about what’s coming up and what I should be focusing on. All of these things have been helping me out and it’s a great feeling knowing that everything on my checklist is done.
At Turning Pointe, Autism Acceptance month is full of bright colors and happy faces. We tend to have a lot of speakers over April, and we usually have an opportunity to volunteer. We have a lot of fun activities for our kiddos. We also participate in a lot of activities or events that talk specifically about Autism and the challenges that we face.
Still, we also talk about the triumphs and victories that we get to see daily. The best part about that last sentence is that these wonderful humans become even more impressive. It gives me so much pride and joy to work here among these everyday superheroes.
Whenever I get asked about my job, I grin ear to ear. This place means so much to me. It helped me finally figure out who I am. That is a slowly maturing, sassy, stubborn, spunky, eclectic, loudmouthed 30-year-old person.
And you know what? I wouldn’t change any of it.