A story of persistence

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Meet Rita

My story with Autism is that of heartache, pain, triumph, setbacks, milestones, hope and gratitude.

It all started in the summer of 2012 when my youngest was about to turn 2. Within a short period of time, Michael, once outgoing, happy and active became withdrawn, depressed and uninterested in the world around him.

The Autism diagnosis he was given opened up a new world I never knew existed; The more I learned about this way of being and its challenges, the more I realized my story resembles that of hundreds of other families in San Diego.

Just when I felt I am on my own, trying to navigate this world of uncertainty and continuous struggles, I found myself surrounded by other caregivers, wanting exactly what I want and longing for it the same way I am.

We all aspire for our children to be happy and accomplished in life, with or without special needs. Nevertheless, when Autism is involved, prejudices and lack of understanding make these aspirations almost impossible; the vast majority of adults on the Autism Spectrum live in group homes and do not actively contribute back to their community.

Even the lucky ones who find jobs when they age out of the school system will soon leave those jobs due to worsened anxiety and constant rejections.

Sadly enough, we advocate so much for increased awareness and inclusion, yet, we expect those who are different to integrate in our social norms with absolutely no accommodation. We train them to fit in the mold we created and we reject them as soon as they fail. We have no problem showing our irritation by the fact that a huge number of adults with Autism require continuous support yet we don’t allow them to provide for themselves.

My dream is that this reality will change ! just as we tailored school programs to allow for learning opportunities for children with autism, why not create small business tailored for them when they age out of the school system so they continue to actively participate in their communities?

This will be a labor of love and it will be only possible with your contribution! Please donate!

Rita Saliba