HBO’s Upcoming Documentary Will Focus on Autism

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On Monday, Oct. 26, HBO will debut “How to Dance in Ohio,” a documentary that follows three young women with autism spectrum disorder in the months leading up to their first formal dance. The doc was a 2015 Sundance Film Festival selection.

 

The film, from director Alexandra Shiva, centers around Marideth Bridges, 16; Caroline McKenzie, 19; and Jessica Sullivan, 22, as they attend the Amigo Family Counseling in Columbus, Ohio, where clinical psychologist Dr. Emilio Amigo holds individual and group therapy sessions to work on social skills.

“Through their stories, and a chorus of other young women and men confronting similar issues, these girls reveal the hard work, perseverance and resilience it takes to be a part of contemporary society, along with the extraordinary challenges of being different,” the documentary’s website reads.

“How to Dance in Ohio” premieres on HBO on Monday, Oct. 26 at 9 p.m. ET and will also be available on HBOGo. If you watch, please let us know your thoughts on the film in the comment section below, on Facebook or at community@themighty.com. 

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Veteran Pens Passionate Note to Neighbor Who Said He Didn’t ‘Look Handicapped’

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When a neighbor left a note suggesting a disabled veteran did not in fact “look handicapped,” and therefore shouldn’t have parked in an apartment complex’s handicapped spot, that veteran typed out a passionate response.

First, he pointed out a simple fact: in Texas, you don’t need a handicapped placard if your vehicle has a Disabled Veteran license plate.

Then, he got real.

“Although I may not ‘look’ handicapped to you, I can assure you that the amount of pain I feel in my lower body from walking due to combat-sustained injuries far supersedes any level of pain you have ever felt in your entire life,” his note reads. “Or maybe not… who am I to say? After all, I don’t even know who you are.”

He signed the note, “Sincerely, the guy who doesn’t look handicapped.”

Editor’s note: The letter below contains explicit language.

View post on imgur.com

Reddit user Molochwalker28 posted a photo of the original note and the veteran’s response this week, and more than 1,000 comments rolled in.

Have you had a similar experience? Let us know about it in the comments below.

h/t Mashable

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Her Parents Want Her Brother With Autism to Move In With Her. She Said No.

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For some parents of people with special needs, it’s a question always in the back of their minds: who will take care of my child when I’m gone? Some expect their other children to fill their shoes, while others wonder if it’s fair to ask it of them.

After 24-year-old Reddit user Throwautistic had a tense conversation with her parents about the future of her brother with autism, she turned to an online community for advice. The user’s parents expect her to move her brother, who’s five years younger than her, into her home and offer him full-time care after they pass away. The young woman would prefer to find him an assisted living facility where he can be more independent. According to the user, her parents see this as abandoning her brother.

They told me I was being selfish and they were very hurt that I wouldn’t help him,” the user wrote. “My parents are so sad and I don’t know what to say to comfort them. What can I do? Am I being too selfish? Some insight would really help me.”

More than 200 comments rolled in. Redditors responded with words support and advice. Take a look at a few answers:

1. “You are an adult. You have the right to make your own decisions. Do what works for you.”

2. “I’m watching my mother deal with a high-needs sibling (not autistic so not quite the same) and even with the sibling in a home, it is [expletive] hard. It’s not a question of loving or not loving your sibling, and it’s not a question of abandonment. It’s a question of the reality of a high-needs condition.”

3. “Having your brother in a supported group home is not abandoning him. It’s allowing him to have his own life.”

4. “Has anyone asked your brother what he wants to do? He’s a person with wants, needs, and desires too.”

5. “Separately clarify to your brother that just because you are moving away does not mean that he isn’t loved by you.

See the whole conversation here.

What’s your take? Should brothers and sisters be expected to take care of their siblings? Let us know in the comments below.

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A Love Letter to My Future Wife, From Your Autistic Husband

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I was 5 years old the first time I knew I’d fall in love and get married one day. I envisioned meeting you by the time I turned 25, having kids when we were 30 and maybe most importantly, being the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

We’ve certainly come a long way. When I was diagnosed with autism at 4, my entire life changed. I went from a life of not knowing what was wrong and why I had limited speech to therapy appointments to help me become the man I am today. I now travel from state to state speaking on overcoming obstacles with autism, and you often travel to these events with me as my number one fan in the audience.

I’m going to show you unconditional love in everything we do every day we’re together. I went from never wanting to be touched as a kid due to sensory overload to a life where I embrace affection. When we get into fights, I’m going to try to communicate as much as possible to understand your perspective. When I need alone time to wind down when I feel overload, I plan on telling you, too. And when our successes come, I’m always going to tell you how proud I am of you.

Our wedding day will be one of the happiest days of my life because you will be there by my side. When we talk about having kids, I will look toward my parents for advice and guidance based on their experiences with me. I want to grow to be the same dad that my dad was for me — there for me in good times and in bad with my chin held up high.

You see, love is something I’ve always wanted. It makes me feel anxious at times with a ton of butterflies in my stomach, but it’s a feeling that brings the best out of me. Something about it made me feel uneasy as a kid, especially when I was being bullied. One peer when I was in high school told me I would never find anyone to spend my life with because I was different. It hurt me to my core to hear that.

But I knew that would never be my life. I’ve had several girlfriends, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one than you. I knew it wasn’t a matter of if I’d find you one day, but when it would happen.

Thank you for embracing who I am, quirks and all, and for being the love I’ve been waiting for my entire life. What we have is a love that lives in serenity, and I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. I’ll always be thankful for you for that.

I was inspired to write this love letter after reading the beautiful words written from Sara LeeAnn Pryde on The Mighty from her story, “A Love Letter to My Neurotypical Husband, From Your Autistic Wife.” I’ve always believed love is something that brings people together, and I wanted to say thank you to Sara for sharing her heart with the world like she did. I’m currently dating an amazing girl, and I know there’s someone out there for everyone. I can’t wait to see where life takes all of us next!

A version of this post originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a love letter to someone special in your life. What do you wish he or she knew? How has he or she made a difference? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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When a Hug From Your Child Is the Rare Moment You Long For

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We all have those times in life when we look back at an event or moment and wish we had a picture of it. Sometimes there are moments that you just wish you had something to look back on.

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I am so thankful someone captured this picture for me. Many people would look at this picture of my son, Trenton, and me embracing and think nothing of it. To most parents, it’s just a simple mother/son moment. However, to me, it’s much more than that.

My son has severe autism. On most days, he’s unable to even look me in my eye. Therefore, a simple gesture of giving me a hug is a very rare occasion. I can count the times on one hand he has put both of his arms around me and embrace me like he did in this picture. 

A simple gesture most parents take for granted is nothing less than a miracle in our house. There are days when I long for a hug, a moment of eye contact, a kiss, a simple touch or even just a smile. My motherly body craves those simple gestures from my children like a newborn baby craves his mother shortly after birth.

In that moment in the photo, I am truly taking it all in. I wanted to hold him forever. My eyes were closed as I tried to hold back the happy tears. I never want those moments to stop because the next moment could be months away.

A simple hug is what gets me through my days as I anticipate when the next one will come. A simple, rare hug makes all the sleepless nights, tears and daily challenges worth it.

This picture is much more than a rare moment; it’s a symbol of my love to my son with severe needs. It doesn’t matter how hard things can be from time to time, I’m right there by his side each step of the way. We embrace his challenges together and we always will.

This picture speaks a thousand words, but, at the same, it hides so much. No one would know from looking at it that Trenton and I were both up the entire night before. I was chasing Trenton around our house while he displayed his night-time behavior due to his autism. The picture doesn’t reveal that he’s a nonverbal child with severe sensory problems and has been in therapy since he was 18 months old. No one would know that behind this picture is a true fighter and a little boy with a lifetime of challenges ahead of him.

We are true warriors in our house. We embrace each moment, live minute by minute and do what needs to be done daily. Behind our struggles and tears are amazing moments. We thank the good Lord for the good times and welcome the bad times with open arms. Somewhere in between those times are moments captured in time forever like a simple hug that comes from nowhere.

Follow this journey on Two Brothers, One Journey.

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Illinois May Be the First State to Allow Medical Marijuana Use for Autism

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Illinois is well on its way to becoming the first state to allow autism as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use.

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommended eight conditions and diseases be added to the list of 39 that are already approved under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. Those conditions are chronic pain due to trauma, chronic pain syndrome, chronic post-operative pain, intractable pain, osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and autism. Two board members voted against recommending cannabis for people with irritable bowel syndrome or autism, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) must still approve the recommendations. If approved, Illinois would be the first state to allow medical marijuana use for autism, The Associated Press reported. To use cannabis, children must have signatures from two doctors in Illinois, and adults must have one.

“It would give clinicians and families another option to manage the symptoms of autism,” board chair Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple told the AP.

The 39 conditions and diseases that have already been approved to qualify a patient to use medical marijuana in Illinois, with a doctor’s signature, include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.

Last month, the state health department rejected 11 new conditions recommended, including PTSD, with Governor Bruce Rauner’s office saying it was premature to expand the pilot program before the drug goes on the market in the coming months, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The state has reported that about 3,100 patients have already been approved to buy the drug under state law, and they will begin receiving their patient ID cards by the end of this month. People with the newly recommended conditions need to await approval before they can submit applications to participate in the program.

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