An Ideal teacher


“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging students to create bridges of their own.”

                   — Nikos Kazantzakis

“It’s not people with disabilities” … “It’s people with abilities.” A change in the handicap parking logo

Malden unveils a new citywide “handicapped” accessibility parking sign.

Harvard design student Sara Hendren and reformed graffiti artist Brian Glenney painted the new symbol in the Triangle Inc. parking lot on Aug. 10. The new logo features a bright orange stick person actively bending forward on a moving wheel.

Glenney, the philosophy professor at Gordon College, has a keen interest in how symbols influence society’s perceptions, and said the idea “was to create a dynamic change from the universal straight-backed handicap symbol, something that would show wheeled individuals as active and real people, instead of passive sticks with wheels”.

Changing social perceptions is a priority for Hendren which is why she begun collaborating with Glenney on the new symbol two years ago. Both hope to change the attitudes of people viewing the ‘handicap’ logo.

“He doesn’t sit on a chair,” said Glenney. “He rides on it like a skateboard.” The motto to this logo is that “we are all people with ability.”

The mayor Mayor Gary Christenson loved the logo so much he suggested to taking the new symbol nationwide.

 Congrats to both Glenny and Hendren for their new creation! I personally love the evolved logo and hope to see this project continue.

Break it down: Ford Style

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”. -Henry Ford

Help children understand the importance of taking small steps by breaking down bigs tasks into small jobs. Educators and parents are the ones who need to model this behavior. Help your children break down huge tasks into smaller parts by writing each step out for your child. Try to then set up some type of reward system for each step accomplished. We often mistake not celebrating the small accomplishments of our children. Children need to be encouraged every step of the way.

My hope is for educators and parents to never under estimate the power of encouragement and praise. It is only after many months or even after many years do people finally realize the actual growth and progress one has made. Remember that small accomplishments add up…keep hoping and dreaming (for your child’s sake)!

Help children know that every small step counts by celebrating the small things of life!

Step on and press on.

Mozambique Adventures: Rooftop Teaching and Learning

Most days in Mozambique, I would be out with Terry Larson exploring Mozambique. We would usually return home before dinner. At around 4, I would hear girls calling. I would go on top of the roof to sing, dance, and teach English. It sort of became a tradition everyday.  In three weeks, the girls were able to count to ten, say/point to basic body parts, and learn simple greetings (hello, goodbye, see you soon). This was really one of my favorite parts of Mozambique. Please enjoy the photos below!

Hundreds convene in Jerusalem to discuss global challenge of Autism: “We cannot give up on our children”

Hundreds from Israel and abroad convened in Jerusalem for ICare4Autism’s International Autism Conference. Below I included a short video as well as the news article covering the event.

Please watch this three minute video interviewing the founder of ICare4Autism. “We cannot give up on our children, especially children with autism. Everyone has a place in this world and they can function if you put in the effort. I like to use a four letter word, love…”

Below is the article Yoni Kempinski wrote for about the global event.

“The 2012 International Autism Conference concluded Thursday in Jerusalem with organizers laying out a detailed plan for ICare4Autism to lead the global movement to help those on the autism spectrum. After two days of intense panels and plenary sessions that included a thousand participants from over twenty different countries, ICare4Autism announced that it will focus on three key areas over the next twelve months:

“We will continue to work tirelessly to realize our dream of ICare4Autism’s new global headquarters on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem, we will move quickly to implement a state-of-the art database system to allow families and caregivers to check information from various governmental and NGO offices in one place, and finally, we will work to implement a workforce initiative for training young adults on the autism spectrum and placing them in high-quality jobs,” said Dr. Joshua Weinstein, founder CEO of ICare4Autism.

Mayor Nir Barkat greeted the conference participants, presenting a detailed vision for Jerusalem in the years to come.  “With strong research and care, we have the ability to send a message all over the world,” said the Mayor.

“Jerusalem is a powerhouse in health life sciences, and 50% of Israel’s clinical trials are conducted here. There is no doubt in my mind that ICare4Autism will be extremely successful in Jerusalem. We will make ICare4Autism a centerpiece for this city,” the mayor concluded.

Barkat’s greetings were followed by speeches from Dame Stephanie Shirley, the founding UK Ambassador for Philanthropy, Dr. Shekhar Saxena of the World Health Organization, and First Lady Marta Linares de Martinelli of Panama.

“As the keynote speaker at the conference, I was extremely impressed with the depth and diversity presented,” said Dame Shirley. She shared her own personal experiences with the participants, explaining how her family’s struggles in raising their autistic son encouraged her to become active in the global cause of autism spectrum disorder policy and awareness.

Dr. Saxena noted that “The key is collaboration: for NGOs, developmental organizations and social activists to work together to make a difference for affected families.”

“Jerusalem is the natural location for an event of this nature because the country has historically been a leader in groundbreaking neurological research. We saw it as imperative to expose some of the world’s top academics and public health advocates in this quickly developing field to the Israeli marketplace of ideas,” Dr. Weinstein explained. “We furthermore firmly believe that collaborations like these will lead to the breakthroughs necessary to best confront this condition and we are confident that ICare4Autism will be the catalyst in this global process.”

Over the two-day event, participants chose from fours tracks that focused on important disciplines relating to autism; “Policy and Awareness,” “Bio-Medical Research and Practice,” “Education and Behavioral Techniques,” and “Technology and Resources.”  Each track featured top international experts in the designated field.

Some of Israel’s leading institutions of higher learning partnered with ICare4Autism in sponsoring the conference. These included Hebrew University, The Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University and Bar Ilan University. The Ministries of Health and Education also collaborated with ICare4Autism on the content of the conference.

Dr. Eric Hollander, a renowned psychiatrist at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in New York and the Chairman of the ICare4Autism Advisory Council, added that he sses the ICare4Autism 2012 Global Conference as “a unique opportunity for leading researchers, clinicians, educators and policymakers from all over the world to share their latest findings and create powerful new international collaborations that will ultimately allow us to discover the etiology of autism and its biologic and environmental causes. This global cross-disciplinary gathering will play a vital role in speeding the development of improved methods of autism detection and treatment that are urgently needed by patients and the families.”



Another inspiring passage from “Look me in the Eye”

A quick word from John Elder Robinson:

“…. our brains continue to develop throughout our lives. This is completely counter to what I’ve often heard but never accepted: “If you’re autistic, you never change.” If I am any example, it is possible to teach old dogs new tricks. In fact, my entire life exemplified continuing change”.

“As a kid, I was voted “most likely to fail,” and indeed, I flunked out of high school. Yet only a few years later I became an engineer on one of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll tours in the world. Then I helped design some of the first electronic games. When I was in my thirties, I made a complete change of direction, raising akid and starting an automobile business. And at fifty, I changed course once again, becoming a successful author.”

Passage taken from: Robison, John Elder. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s. New York: Crown, 2007. Pg 284.

As stated in previous posts, I highly recommend the book: “Look Me in the Eye” by John Elder Robinson to gain a better understanding on people with Asperger’s.