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What I learned at the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day 2013

World Autism Awareness 2013 Empire State Building
World Autism Awareness 2013 Empire State BuildingRHM

Sound bites might simply be just the best form of communication. Like ABA (applied behavioral analysis) which we utilize to elicit responses from children with autism, commands are concise and to the point. Less is more. So are the "sound bites" that I took from my six hours at the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day 2013.

Speakers and performers at the UN's "celebrating the ability within the disability of autism" and "transition to adulthood" were stunning in their presentations. It was a kaleidoscope of color, personality and performance. We were to be dazzled and inspired as presenters gave it their best.

Highlights from Elaine Hall's The Miracle Project put a smile on my face as children with autism sang, and moved with great enthusiasm. It was a picture of joy in the face of adversity. Singer Talina performed with grace and passion. We saw the ability beyond the disability.

The professionals included a list of brilliant names in their field and my choice to present the sound bite, is a testament to the power of words:

Elaine Hall: It is a myth that those with autism don't show empathy. Don't think disabled- think "differently abled"

Dr. Stephen Shore: Who is in the proverbial driver's seat? Know strengths, convert those interests from avocation to vocation.

Dr. Barry Prizant: To advance the mind, we must energize the spirit...We are turning the corner....how do we go about recognizing and nurturing the seeds of interests and talents so that they may blossom?...Do look for areas of interest, aptitude, and enjoyment....Don't allow the interests to interfere with a child's progress in other areas. Quoting Clara Clairbone Park mother of an older man with autism: "Not obsessions---enthusiasms!"

Dr. Abelardo David: One day, I hope society realizes that what disabled people with autism and other developmental conditions is not necessarily their condition, but the contextual barriers built around them.

Neil Katz (a teenager with autism who used his assisted device to speak): I cannot speak; I listen to their ignorance.

Fazli Azeem: Not impossible- I'm possible!

Dr. Valerie Paradiz: Transition does not happen at a magical age, but is part of the human passage. It begins for all of us, from the minute of birth.

Jean Marie Gonzales: Jean is a mother of six, one has autism. She drew tears as her words were translated. Working with Project T.E.A.C.H. in the Philippines, Jean gives new meaning to "it takes a village".

Finally, to Linda Walder Fiddle, who moderated this event; your tireless efforts and funds raised by the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, in memory of Daniel, make it truly a reality to say

I'M POSSIBLE!

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