By Daniel Hecht
Sometimes I hear people talking about disabilities as something negative. I have Autism, so sometimes I have trouble understanding things I read or what people are saying, and it is also hard for me to understand their emotions. For me my disability means that I might need help doing things, like the laundry, or cooking, or understanding school work. But mostly I like to focus on all of the things that I CAN do.
I can go to college at the Community College of Baltimore County and take classes in the Single Step program such as Language Arts, Math, Personal Employment and Independent Living. I can find my way around the campus and buy my lunch or snacks at the cafeteria. I take the van to school, but last year I took MTA Mobility by myself. Even though it did not pick me up at my house I would take it from the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. I like my teachers and my friends at CCBC. I get homework and I am able to complete my assignments.
I can work at Mr. Charles Market. I have worked there since high school. I wash the dishes and pans, help with the laundry, cut vegetables, take out the garbage, stock the shelves and other things that my bosses, Chef Aharon and Chef Stu, ask me to do. They explain the directions so that I can understand and they are patient with me. I also have a job coach, Tony (from Abilities Network) and he helps me with the dishes and other assignments.
I can go to the movies by myself or with my friends. I don’t drive but my parents and sister give me rides. I like to do activities with my new friends from the GILD group. We have fun going out to dinner and spending time at people’s houses.
I can work out with my trainer Denny at the JCC. I have been working out with Denny for several years every Sunday morning. He has taught me how to use the machines such as the treadmill and rowing machines. He has taught me how to jump rope, play basketball, throw and catch a Frisbee and lift weights.
I can travel with my family and by myself. I have traveled to Israel three times to visit my sisters and to attend their weddings. My favorite city is Tel Aviv and I like going to the beach. I have flown on an airplane by myself to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Utah. They took me camping in Yellowstone National Park, which was great. I hope to go back to Utah to visit them.
I can use the computer, especially Facebook, to send messages to my family and friends. I also like to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix and on the television and the computer. I also like to play Wii games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Mario Cart, and Movie Trivia.
There are so many things I can do that I don’t let the things I can’t do or need help to do bother or upset me.
Want to live like Daniel or know someone who could benefit from people like him? Check out the robust services available for people with special needs in Jewish Baltimore.