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A Note About Autism (recently published in Hunter's Creek Magazine)

by Marc Rivera (co-written with Carmen Rivera)

The world of autism is very complicated. I know because I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. One of the things that worry me and my family is how society sees those of us in the spectrum. In my experience, I find myself constantly making huge efforts to understand others, but they don’t make any efforts to understand me. I always have to compensate which can become pretty exhausting. I speak about this in detail in my book, Tears of Pain: My Life with Autism, published by Bookworm Publishing this year. If people would just be a little more tolerant of others who are different from them, life would be so much easier for everyone. I believe that society has been trained to try to change people when they behave oddly, without even thinking that we are all different. Everyone spends so much time trying to root out odd behaviors instead of being more understanding.

There is no question that my world is distinct from yours. I perceive the world through a slightly different lens than others. My world, just like your world, is an integral part of my identity. We need a system that will focus on cultivating our unique personalities, interests, abilities, hopes and dreams, one that will help those who interact with us (community, peers, friends and family) in building and maintaining effective and social connections.

Whereas there are many with severe autism that may need much care, there are others in the spectrum with fantastic attention to detail, loyalty, dependability, honesty, unique interests, and an excellent memory for facts and statistics. Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if we were allowed to use these skills to cope with our autistic impairments? These individuals can benefit from a college education. According to an article entitled 1 in 3 Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorder go to College, Study Shows, written by Salynn Boyles, WebMD Health News (May 14, 2012), in 2012 in the U.S. “about 50,000 children with autism will transition to adulthood and for many-especially those without economic advantages – this transition will be far from smooth, new research indicates”.

To that end, our family created Reaching New Horizons for Autism, Inc. a non- profit scholarship program for college students in the autism spectrum. The program is scheduled to start in 2014. We want to encourage people in the spectrum reach their dream of pursuing a college education and achieve their full potential by helping with their transition and providing limited financial assistance to qualified individuals. Our source for funding the program so far has been the royalties from the sale of my book. In addition, we are planning a large fundraising event for April of next year. We are asking our communities to support us in our mission.

You can help by purchasing my book at www.virtualbookworm.com. You may also contact us at 321-663-8538 with any questions or comments. Visit us at www.newhorizonsforautism.orgE-mail: reachingnewhorizons2013@yahoo.com

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