We all know the key to success is found in unity. Are you playing your part in the collected effort? Maybe you wonder how you could possibly fit one more thing into your day- I do. But, as we all know, we are only given what we can handle. With that said, here are the top five ways for the busy autism advocate to be a part of pushing for progress in 2010.
1. Host an Event in Your Area
Ha, ha. I bet you are wondering how this makes sense for the “busy” autism advocate. Here’s how. Hosting an event encompasses more than building an event from scratch. It also means that you can play the connector. That means connecting a creditable non-profit to the events that will be happening in your area.
For example, the International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism) has launched a nationwide campaign to create a committee of ‘Event Hosts’ and offering benefits to go with it. Yes, they are offering real money just for connecting the dots. This may be a great opportunity for the time-crunched individual. For more information on this opportunity please visit, http://www.icare4autism.org
Common local events typically include; a winter carnival, a summer golf outing, community breakfast, etc. Also, each city’s Chamber of Commerce and many volunteer organizations such as the Kiwanis and Key Club, their high school offshoot, will proudly tie into an accredited organization’s good cause.
2. Become a Volunteer
One a great thing to do is follow the old adage, “do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.” How can you do this? One-way is to volunteer regularly. Best of all, it is simple. Most groups and/or organizations even have things that you can help with from home.
For example, local autism organizations such as community divisions of national autism groups and religious affiliated autism groups such as Benjamin House Jewish Family Services, based out of Brooklyn, New York are ready to accept volunteers.
Former NY Fashion model, and mother of one, Allison Kilcrease explained to me that she is currently searching for the right volunteer outlet for her efforts. “I am a mom, I work and I am finishing my second college degree but I know how important it is to get involved, so I will pull time from somewhere.”
3. Connect Your Business
Any business can build upon its moral standard. Let yours continue its efforts or begin to do so in 2010. Ideas for collaboration with a non-profit include contributing a portion of proceeds. This can mean for a set period of time or until a set amount of money is raised. Another idea is to place an auction for autism at an annual event. Some business’s also set up a program to match monies raised. There are many variations of this set up but it is a great contribution to the cause.
Small businesses may have less to spend but can still get involved. Any business can place flyers and/or posters in its location. Also, a donation box can be placed by cash registers.
For example, Hear Our Voices School and Center for Children with Autism, located in Brooklyn, New York willing to team up with local, national or international businesses. “The puzzle can only be completed through continued caring and collaboration,” says the school’s spokesperson. For more information on this organization please visit, http://www.hear-our-voices.com
4. Inform the Media
It is important to make sure that what is going on in the everyday world of those touched by autism continues to be noticed. Silence may be golden at a movie theater but not when it comes to discussing the rapidly growing number of people on this spectrum.
How you can alert the media: (1) search the Internet for an example of a press release (2) write your information accordingly (3) submit to the ‘community news’ section of your local newspaper (4) call and follow up, until you see your story in print. If they are hesitant, get more people involved in your story. Add an affiliation to your efforts, such as a local business leader who supports autism awareness. Most importantly, keep pushing until you shine a light onto your topic. If you live in the New York State area, you can send your news stories to myself, for consideration.
5. Sound Bite for Success
Keep people informed of what is going on. Take a minute and develop your own autism-fact sound bites. Think about things people tend to misunderstand and simplify it into a quick and catchy sentence. Then, intertwine your sound bites into random conversations. This is great because it is easier to educated people a little at a time. For example, your sound bites will be great to use when at a school function, social outing, the doctor’s office or even the grocery store
I spoke with Cynthia Lloyd NP, who has developed Florida-based home health agencies for over 20 years. Lloyd told me, “One specific misunderstanding occurs in teens with autism. Onlookers, unaware of the signs of autism, tend to assume that these kids do not want to communicate because they “teenagers” when really they do.”
With an undeniably sincere understanding, Joshua Weinstein, Ph.D., M.B.A., founder of the International Center for Autism Research and Education, told me, “A person whose everyday life is touched by autism knows, firsthand, what onlookers can only speculate.”