According to the Autism Speaks Organization, April is designated as World autism Awareness month. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States. According to the American Psychiatric Association, we know that there is not one autism but many sub-types; most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accomplished by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues. Our weekly “Circle Up” at LIFESPAN highlights the fact that just as individuals with autism are unique and special in their gifts, talents and challenges, so are each one of us. Yes, you are unique; separately set apart; there is no other person in the whole wide world that is fashioned, patterned, designed or made like you. Your fingerprint…your DNA makeup…are uniquely yours. You were cut from a special cloth. You are special and perfect in your own uniqueness in that there is no other person in this world to which you can be compared. So, eliminate the urge of allowing others to validate you and comparing yourself to others…consider this since you are unique. There is no comparison. Your journey is completely yours. It is unique. Others may try to steal part of it…tell it in their words…or shape it to suit themselves. However, the reality is no one can live it or own it but you. Take charge of your journey; it’s yours and yours alone. It is not an accident that each one of us works together, here at LifeSpan. We combine our talents and gifts and lend ourselves to the care and keep of individuals with autism and other special needs. Destiny has brought us all together for such a time as this. Keep this one thought in mind, when our uniqueness is celebrated and connected, it suddenly becomes something far greater than its individual truth. For us it manifests itself through the unlimited possibilities that lie within each of the unique individuals we serve…we celebrate their uniqueness as we work tirelessly to help those individuals not only see their potential but live into the unique possibilities for their life. Celebrate your uniqueness! Celebrate the uniqueness of others! It is the beautiful, rich and vibrant tapestry of humanity! —Marie Roberts, Accounting & Billing Specialist, LIFESPAN
When I was younger, everybody would say, “Your smile is beautiful.” As a matter of fact, I’ve always been told my smile is one of my best attributes. I’ve discovered some very important things about SMILES. “To smile” is to form one’s facial features into a pleasing, kind or amusing expression; typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed. (By the way, it takes 62 muscles to frown, but only 26 to smile.) According to Maya Angelou, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” So, if you have only one smile in you, give it away! Scientists have discovered that smiling on-purpose helps people feel better. Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel and experience happiness, joy and amusement. Smiling on purpose changes the chemistry in your brain. Smiling has also been proven to help people deal with and manage depression and anxiety. We never know what our co-ambassadors are going through on a personal level. Some days they may be struggling inside and one simple smile from you can brighten their day, ease their burden and help them refocus their day. A sincere smile has the power to transform. I challenge you to try it! Smile. Smile at someone today and see what happens. It just might change their day…and yours, too! —Dantrelle “Dannie” Mcclure (Administrative Assistant LIFESPAN & LIFEWORKS) (By they way, Dannie challenged all of us gathered at LIFESPAN Shopton to smile. And to help us do it, she provided a “Selfie Frame” Take a look at what happened. It was transformative! And P.S. thanks for the Smile Bags, Dannie.)
The individuals we serve at our campuses do amazing art work. And several pieces are available for sale, including this cute wooden bunny that stands just over 3 feet tall! Crafted by an individual at our Creative Campus – Troutman, this piece is only $30+tax. If you are interested in purchasing this, please contact Angel Mendola at 704-873-5646. A portion of each art purchase goes back to the artist and the rest helps sustain the art programming. Check back to see more pieces for sale!!
We are pleased to announce the Grand Re-Opening of the Albemarle Creative Campus! The date is February 20 from 10 am to noon! Changes have been going on in Albemarle including a face lift, and Supported Employment’s Piedmont Team is using some of the space for on the second floor for their home base. Our ambassadors and individuals have been busy getting ready to greet our guests and will be ready to show everyone how they spend their days! Our ambassadors are very creative and so are our individuals. You may also see some competitive games going on too. We look forward to seeing you on February 20th!