By Angela Mayes, ’20
April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a wide-spectrum disorder, meaning every person who has autism experiences it differently. This Tuesday, Best Buddies hosted an assembly to educate our community about autism and people with disabilities, as well as to inform everyone about the Best Buddies program in general. We’re so lucky to have people in our own community willing to share their experiences and stories.
Ms. Delorenzo, our school psychologist, spoke about her experience working with children with autism. In addition to being our school psychologist, Ms. Delorenzo holds a BS in Elementary and Special Education. Jeff Calnan, our Best Buddies Program Manager, then spoke about how Best Buddies can change the lives of high school students with disabilities. When Jeff was finished speaking he introduced a video of a Best Buddies ambassador, Jack Mayor. Jack told us how lonely he was before he met his best friend through the Best Buddies program.
Our last speaker, Leah Humphreys, one of our seniors, spoke about her life and experiences. She touched upon the use of the ‘r-word’ and informed our community that the word is never okay to use. She talked about bad habits and forgiveness, saying, “I understand that habits are not always easy to break… I’m human, I have habits just like the rest of us. I can forgive someone who simply does not understand the history of the word, the use of it, how it makes others feel. This is ignorance, I can forgive ignorance. Though, there comes a point when ignorance becomes ignoring… and that is oh so much harder to forgive.”
She also spoke about her younger brother, Timmy, who has autism. She told us how proud she was to be his big sister and that she would never change anything about him. She mentioned the importance of speaking up about the use of the r-word as well, saying, “Speak up for the people who want to and cannot…Speech is such a beautiful, incredible thing. Please, try not to take it for granted. Use your ability to speak with care. You can say anything you want, but why choose to say something so hurtful, so painful to so many people?”
Leah then introduced our next video, a simulation of how one person with autism might experience an event that happens in other people’s daily lives.
After watching the video our students and faculty broke into groups discussing how the video made them feel and what being a buddy in our school means to them. Each group made a poster of what they discussed, which will soon be hanging on our Best Buddies bulletin board. We hope our assembly made our audience more aware of how they use their power to speak and how they treat other people.
How can you help APH’s Best Buddies? Please bring your appetite and patronize Chipotle on Andover Street, Suite E194A, at the Northshore Mall, on Tuesday, May 15th 4:00-8:00 pm. 50% of all proceeds will go towards APHBest Buddies.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD and support the activities, events and leadership conference of our Best Buddies Club.