By Nicole Hegewald
The saying goes, “no news is good news.” However, there have been a number of positive and inspiring stories found in the world recently! Due to popular demand, here are a few blurbs on some of the good news found in the autism world.
Kaleb Drew, a first grader at Villa Grove Elementary School, has been awarded the permission to keep his Labrador Retriever, Chewey, at school with him. Douglas County Judge Chris Freese, agreed that the dog is a service animal, similar to a Seeing Eye dog.
The school is was apprehensive about having the dog at the school because they were unsure of the reactions of other children in the class. They were trying to prevent allergic reactions and avoid problems if any of the other children are fearful of the animal.
“I’m very pleased and happy that Kaleb and Chewey are going to get to continue their work together and continue to grow as a team and learn from each other,” Kaleb’s mother said after the ruling.
Sesame Street recently celebrated its 40th year on television. It is also celebrating the positive effect it’s had on children, especially those with autism and other disabilities.
Sesame Street has a very colorful cast including adults, children, monsters, animals, even imaginary friends. Several of the characters on Sesame Street, humans and puppets alike, have disabilities. Sesame Street strives to be an example to children by showing them that everyone is accepted.
The show sends messages of love and acceptance. It gives daily lessons of how to handle emotions and feelings. It educates children about letters and numbers and even promotes games of make-believe. These principles make Sesame Street an ideal model for all children, and a perfect guide for those with autism.
Tender Care Human Services creator Yolanda Vitulli uses music and art as more than just a simple program to entertain disabled children in the Queens and Brooklyn NY area. She believes they can really expand the world of children with autism.
“They love coming here,” she said of the children in the program. “We had a break for the summer and they would be calling us, ‘When are we going to have that music therapy back?'”
The idea for Tender Care began when her son, Michael, 20, who has autism repeated a special purple dinosaur and told his mother “I love you” when he was six. Vitulli was skeptical that he knew what he was saying. Michael was diagnosed with echolalia, and repeats things that he hears. After stating his love again and again, Vitulli declared her love as well.
“He got a big smile and we had a big hug,” Vitulli recalled. “That’s when he started to develop his speech.”
While many of the stories seen in the news are based on tragedies and sad tales, it is up to the autism community to make sure new and wonderful things are happening that prevent these negative incidences from reoccurring. The smallest medical advances in autism can make a huge difference in the lives of effected children and their families. Here at the International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism), we are doing our part to spread awareness and educate the public about autism.