April is Autism Awareness Month. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. I have worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for much of my life. In fact, before moving out to California, I was managing a cafe that hires and trains young adults with developmental disabilities. It didn’t start there though. Growing up I spent summers at an overnight camp. That camp had a program to integrate special needs individuals. I continued to work with that program outside of camp during my college years and even after I graduated. In that time, I met some of the most loving and talented people I have ever come across.
I’m sure many of you know someone in your life that has Autism. Customize a Benchmark email template and help raise awareness of Autism. In my campaign I would tell my subscribers about my good friend Avi. He is like a living, walking juke box. You can play a song for him once and he will know the lyrics for the rest of his life. He also loves food. Working with him at the cafe was a blast. He could talk with any customer from any background about their culture’s foods and what he liked best. He even knows how to sing several countries’ national anthems in their respective languages. It is a truly impressive feat, and you can’t help but smile when you’re around Avi.
Even TV is playing its part in raising awareness. The TV show Parenthood has a character with Asperger’s syndrome, which is a high functioning form of Autism. The show depicts the challenges of raising a child with Asperger’s, but also the fact that there are positives. Even American Idol features a contestant with Asperger’s this season. Will you do your part?