Making Friendsw/AUTISM! on April 23, 2012
Kelly Green is just one of the very involved moms in the world of autism. Her son's autism has prompted her to get highly involved in breaking down the stigmas and raising awareness of the condition.
For the second year in a row, Green put together an Autism Awareness Chalk Festival. This year's event was held Saturday in front of the Beach Side Cafe at 1319 N. Grand Ave., Covina, to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month.
"There are a lot of people in the world of autism that have talent and a lot of people don't realize that because they have the old stigma that we're all real sad and none of us can make friends," said Green. "But it's really changing. We've made friends with people all over the world."
The festival offered a chance for people to come and see some of the great work done by people with autism or by people who support them. The point is to not cover up the differences, but to accept and embrace them and to educate the public on issues that affect people with the condition.
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Green has made a variety of coloring books that teach people about autism in a fun way that's easily understandable. http://www.makingfriendswithautism.com/
"We want everybody to understand that we're a little bit different, but once you get used to it, you realize that the talent that some of these kids have is really
amazing," she said.
One being, 12-year-old Jeremy Bernstein, who may be one of the youngest entrepreneurs, with a handmade jewelry business. He has a retail license and sells at different fairs where he allows other kids with autism to sell things with him and make their own money.
His passion for making jewelry started in the fourth grade when he was required to do a "Dream for Jobs" assignment. Since then he has been making jewelry.
Jeremy's autism has not stopped him from doing things he loves. According to him, it has helped.
"My disabilities have actually given me inspiration to go through with the work and do it," he said "In rough times and good times, it's inspired me."
Bernstein is a lucky participant in one of the schools that offers "Danny's Farm," a nonprofit organization that provides a farm setting with a safe, peaceful and loving environment for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The group was formed in 1997 by former Los Angeles Dodger Pitcher Jim Gott and his wife Cathy in honor of their son Danny, who was diagnosed with autism.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
Joel Anderson, 21, also has autism but is probably more productive than most people his age. Anderson, who lives in Fallbrook, paints, makes videos and speaks to kids in local schools about autism. http://www.joelsvisionarts.com
Anderson said it's important for people to know about autism "so they know they have possibilities, even though they have autism."
He, like Burnstein, has attended the Autism Awareness Festival. He strives to spread the message he believes is most important - "Be the best you can be!"