Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Autism Support Here, There, Everywhere

Ari Ne'eman, National Council on Disability

How much do I LOVE that President Obama has appointed the first ever autistic White House appointee, Ari Ne’eman, new member of the National Council on Disability (NCD), advising the president and congress about ways to reform health care, schools, support services, and employment policy?! And he’s only 22 years old!! Inclusiveness is such an important element of our leadership right now, when divisiveness rules the airwaves and rhetoric (and public appearances by government officials–thoughts and prayers for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all the families of each and every victim of that tragedy).

Autism is a thing we never heard of, or spoke of, when I was growing up. Like peanut allergies, it must have been there, but wasn’t named or responded to as sensitively as it is now (and I am not likening the two–just my own obliviousness to the issues prior to recent years). I have dear friends who have autism in their families, and are so inspiring in the empowering and nurturing ways they work together as families–it is truly a lesson in how to BE in this world.

If you know or are part of any families with autism, ever saw a TV show or article about autism that hooked you, or just know you can be of help…think about doing some Autism volunteering.

  • Traveler’s Worldwide offers volunteer vacations to help children with autism in South Africa. How much time do you have? A month? a summer? You will work in a school dedicated to treating autistic children as a classroom assistant and work one-on-one, tutoring. When the end-of-school bell rings, you still get to have incredible interactions in the evenings, playing and imagining with autistic children who are resident  at the school.
  • The Beijing Institute for Autistic Children in partnership with Volunteer Abroad provides opportunities to work with Chinese children with autism. For one to eight weeks, volunteers help autistic children develop skills and learn to interact with others.
  • WLS International also services the autistic community in China and has volunteer experiences from one week or longer, in Beijing.
  • Teach Abroad provides volunteer opportunities to work with autistic children, ages five and older, in Delhi, India. For a minimum of two months, you will teach subjects like music, drama, English, and arts with a motivated autistic student body.
  • The Canadian Alliance for Development Initiatives and Projects does a three-week camp program (one week of training and two camp weeks) for volunteers to work with autistic kids in Courtenay, British Columbia.
  • The Comox Valley Child Development Association sends volunteers to help children at a yearly autism summer camp in Canada. At this three week camp, volunteers help autistic children and teens participate in group activities, meal preparation, and day trips.
  • The Cultural and Academic Travel Organization facilitates volunteer vacations to Ghana’s New Horizon School for Persons with Intellectual Disability. At this school, volunteers help children and adults with mental challenges, including autism. Volunteers teach academic subjects, tutor autistic people in life skills, supervise activities, and work at the autism resource center.

One Hope: Wine, Travel, and Giving

This is a beautiful blend in my mind: Doing good, Travel, and Wine. ONE HOPE Wines is a wine company that gives a portion of every purchase to charity. It varies among the wines you choose, but donations average about 10% to 15%, sometimes as much as 50% (and the company additionally donates 50% of its profits to charities) per bottle. The causes also vary: breast cancer, autism, AIDS, children’s hospitals, environmental organizations, supporting the troops, and more. ONE HOPE has become the socially conscious wine choice for events like the Grammys, BAFTA awards, the American Red Cross Gala, VH1 Save the Music, and the Sundance Film Festival.

Where does the travel part come in? ONE HOPE has partnered with American Airlines –and American is featuring their Sauvignon Blanc on flights–for each bottle the airline serves, ONE HOPE will plant a tree in addition to the monetary donations, and shoppers who buy the wine via the portal get an additional 20% off the price. The Chardonnay is also served on AA flights, and 50% from those bottle goes toward breast cancer charities.

So book a flight somewhere fabulous for a volunteer vacation, toast your hard work while you are en route, and know that your reach is extending even further than you thought.

Not Scrooge

Picture 2Actor/Comedian Jim Carrey (playing Scrooge in the new film version of A Christmas Carol) can polarize opinions with his extreme physicality and antics, but you cannot find fault with his commitment to charitable causes. Carrey has a new personal website ( that raises the bar for interactive bells and whistles (and takes a long time to load). The most interesting part of this ethereal site (home page pictured above) is the link to Carrey’s Better U Foundation, a wonderful charity with a true invitation for getting involved in the lives of others, recognizing that we are at our best when we are reaching out. The particular issues being undertaken at this time include autism (Carrey and his wife, actress/comedienne Jenny McCarthy, have a son working through autism and are empowering activists in the cause), safe water (advocating the simple affordable and lifesaving use of LifeStraw, a personal water purifier that anyone anywhere can use and can transform global health), food security (an eco-friendly program to increase rice crops and feed millions more people each harvest), mobility for the disabled (creating affordable, simple wheelchairs), and human rights (calling for international action on global humanity issues).

As we round the bend toward the holidays, look for ways in your own life to embrace the season of generosity, and take a page from this Ebenezer Scrooge’s book.

The Horse Boy (Movie)

I couldn’t put down the book, and now the film is being released. I know I’ve got a crazy attachment to horses…but I can’t wait to see this…