Choose Kindness

Just before Valentine’s Day, I gave my autism presentation as part of a collaborative event called, Inclusion and Breaking Barriers. Expressing kindness is so important… If everyone were to express a little more kindness than is called for, the world would truly be a better place. That’s the message of a book called, “Wonder,” and the evening event started off with a theater performance based on scenes from that story. The main character, who has a severe facial deformity, experiences all kinds of reactions from others, including bullying. I know what that feels like. When I was in middle school, I actually gave my very first autism “presentation and talk-back” to kids in health class because I hoped that explaining about autism would help them be more kind. I wanted kids to appreciate me and my talents instead of teasing me about my differences.

I never dreamed that I would go on to speak with hundreds of kids my age, helping them to understand that “being different” doesn’t mean that someone is less of a person. Actually, being different can give you insights and thoughts that others wouldn’t come up with – sometimes such ideas can change the world! Think of people like Albert Einstein and Temple Grandin… I’m doing what I can to teach about kindness and compassion, and one of my big dreams is to give my autism presentation in a football stadium or events center filled to the top with people – I want to make an impact like a meteor! I often think in poetry and images. In fact, when I was little, my mom wrote down things I’d say, and some of her favorite phrases are included in her book about me.

I definitely made an impact at my school the other day. I’m in a “fitness” P.E. class that is huge – it’s actually three coaches and around a hundred kids, and sometimes, I participate in the “adaptive P.E.” class that happens during the same time period. Well, I arranged with the coaches to give my presentation to all these kids, and then I invited the women’s choir to attend too. I was over the moon with happiness when more than 200 kids crowded into the bleachers to hear me, and they were so quiet and respectful. At the end, I sang, “This little light of mine, / I’m gonna let it shine…” and I got everyone to sing with me and clap with the beat – the whole gym was ringing! Music is in my heart, and it feels so good to share it…

Fairview presentation Feb 2014

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