Talks on Understanding our Differences
Alexis Miranda Foundation also runs an ongoing Autism awareness campaign where we speak to students at elementary, junior high and the occasional high schools on Autism. In our talks, we teach them how Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the individual from birth primarily in the areas of social communication and interaction. We also let them know that their reactions to things in the environment may vary from what they may view to be the norm as a result of sensory sensitivity which simply means their sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing, and seeing are heightened. We have 4 to 5 students volunteer and try to fix a puzzle after distributing the pieces amongst them. The catch, however, is that there can be no verbal or nonverbal communication at all within a minute.
This demonstration gets the children involved and makes it interactive. After the countdown which we have the rest of the students join in, the volunteers share with their peers the experience of what it felt like not being able to communicate in order to complete the puzzle. This gives them insight as to what it may be like to have Autism and not be able to communicate your thoughts, needs, wants or feelings.
At the end we ask them to be a friend, lend a helping hand, be respectful, inclusive, patient and understanding of everyone especially children living with Autism who are no different and need more love, care, respect and understanding as well as inclusion.
We have also supported a number of students/families with scholarships to enable their children to attend schools/ autism centers where they are being equipped with the skills necessary to gain some independence allowing them to integrate into the larger society.