Friday, December 23, 2016

Autistic Girl Sings Hallelujah, Breaking Down Stereotypes, Creating Mentorships

I had to share this video which has been making the rounds on social media. It shows an autistic girl singing a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. (The words had been rewritten as a Christmas song) I truly hope that this child does something amazing with her gift. h/t Kveller.Com *

I absolutely love videos like this one. Not simply because it shows an immensely talented young person. But it shows the world that simply because a person has an autism spectrum disorder, doesn't preclude them from doing anything they want.

Many are surprised that a person with ASD could get up in front of an audience and perform. This is simply a stereotype of autism, and what the world thinks autistic people can NOT do.

But these videos break stereotypes. 

Autistic people can do anything they want, for the most part, just like anyone else. (If an autistic person doesn't have 20/20 vision they will not be an airplane pilot, just like any typical person without 20/20 vision) The issue is how to create a situation, or program, that supports them the way they need to be helped in order to be successful. JUST.LIKE.ANYONE.ELSE.

Nobody thinks about the typical mentor-mentee relationship at a work place. It is taken for granted that for a business to be successful, hence for a person to be successful, they need a robust mentorship. Well so do autistic people. Only their mentorships would probably look a little different than the typical one. Each geared toward that special need or special idiosyncrasy of the autistic person.

Yes, it is more involved than the across the board corporate mentorship program. In general, typical people do not need tailor made support systems. Yes autistic people generally do, because as we always say "When you have met one autistic person, you have met only one autistic person." Each person with autism is unique requiring their own set of circumstances and nuanced support.

So creating mentorships, appropriate support systems and  ridding the world of its biases is definitely the goal for the future, and something to work on in the New Year. Lets' ask ourselves:

How do we get rid of autistic stereotypes?
How do we build better work support systems for autistics, so that they can show the world exactly what they are capable of doing, performing and accomplishing.

Yes, there are some corporate programs out there. The most famous of course is the one pioneered at Microsoft. But most autistics, as with most people, will not work for Microsoft, or a Microsoft-like corporation. They will work at a local store, business, or even become an entrepreneur. Advocating in your local area is a great way to begin, and creating at-home support mechanisms is another way to go as well.

Meanwhile, Mr.GS1 is lucky. He found a situation where not only were they glad to allow us to create a support program for him, but they reveled in their ability to do so. I continually hear how happy they are with his work, his work ethic and his abilities. And once we explained the purpose of the job coach, they were thrilled to have him on board, and even gave him his own workstation for when he showed up for support purposes.

So you see it can be done. All it takes is a company with an open mind, can see beyond the stereotypes and wants to embrace the future for every member of society

* The article in Kveller talks about Leonard Cohen and what he might feel being Jewish and that his song was turned into a Christmas song. Not knowing Mr. Cohen at all, but having read a lot about him since he passed away this year, I think he would be thrilled to know that this little girl could sing his music with such aplomb. In fact, I think, as the humanitarian he appeared to be, that he would be overjoyed to know that he had had a hand in helping this autistic girl in some way.