World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated every year on April
2nd, which kicks off Autism Acceptance Month. This campaign is part
of a shift from a focus on autism awareness to promoting acceptance and
inclusion for people who are on the autism spectrum. As the month draws to a
close, we can reflect on the history and value of occasions focused on
celebrating people with autism as family members, friends, classmates,
co-workers, and community members.
World Autism Awareness Day was established with a UN Resolution in 2008, originally dedicated to promoting awareness of autism within the member states. Every year, the UN designates a theme – this year it was “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.” There are various events that celebrate the day, with monuments around the world turning blue in honor of the occasion.
In order to acknowledge that autism is part of the human
experience and to celebrate the contributions to society of people on the
autism spectrum, the Autism Self Advocacy Network chose to celebrate Autism
Acceptance Month instead in 2011. Major corporations, such as Apple, have
embraced this message and now participate in the campaign.
Currently, the CDC estimates that 1% of the world may be
impacted by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is crucial to continue to work
towards being a more accepting society – without acceptance, people with autism
won’t be able to reach their full potential and will continue to face stigma in
their daily lives. As an organization that serves people with disabilities, we
are proud to recognize that we are all people with ability!
Below are some resources so you can learn more on the
In honor of the graduation of the most recent cohort of the Health Careers Collaborative last week, we took a deeper look into what makes the program dynamic.
Over the past two years, unemployment rates have plummeted to historic
lows across the country, leaving various industries with a labor shortage. In
particular, the health care industry has suffered from a scarcity of people willing
to fill the roles of Home Health Aide and Certified Nurse Assistant. To address
both the needs of the growing industry and Triangle’s ongoing goal of providing
people with disabilities with the opportunity for independence through
competitive employment, Triangle worked with Spaulding Rehabilitation Network
to develop the Health Careers Collaborative. The Health Careers Collaborative
is an initiative that equips adults with disabilities with the skills necessary
to develop successful careers as Certified Nurse Assistants or Home Health
Aides. In this program, Triangle’s employment specialists work closely with
students as they attend employment preparation boot camp, health care
credential training, clinical placement at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network,
and prepare for their state credential exam.
We caught up with two of the program’s graduates, Clercinie and
Siomara, to learn more about their experiences with the program.
Since moving to the US from Haiti in 1998, Clercinie has worked a
variety of jobs in the greater Boston area to support her family. After losing
one of those jobs, she decided to pursue a credential training program in the
healthcare field. The cost of a certification program was a concern, but her
worries were put to rest when she was connected with Triangle’s Health Careers
Collaborative. During her first conversation with a Triangle, Inc. staff member,
she recalls being told, “I’m here to help you,” and found the sentiment to be
true throughout the entire program. Whether it was navigating financial
challenges or building up her confidence as a non-native English speaker in the
classroom, Clercinie testified to both the practical support and the “good
hearts” of Triangle’s staff members that contributed to her success. She
excelled in the program and accepted a position with Spaulding Rehabilitation
Hospital in Charlestown, where she also completed her clinical placement. A
natural caregiver, Clercinie currently spends much of her time working with
head trauma patients.
Dorchester native Siomara realized that she wanted to help other people navigate challenges in the healthcare field after serving as a caretaker for her grandmother. With a two-year-old daughter, daily expenses, and complex travel logistics, Siomara began the 12-week certification program knowing she was going to have to manage more than just the course work. She was surprised by the support she received from the Health Careers Collaborative Senior Employment Specialist, who helped coordinate childcare, financial resources, and even came to the class in person to supply bus passes to the students. By beginning with employment basics like professional attire, and working closely with our partner Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Siomara graduated with confidence, knowing that she was a prepared candidate with real job opportunities. Siomara is currently working at Spaulding Rehabilitation’s long-term care facility in Brighton. While she knows that people can get “worn out” in this profession, she enjoys working with the residents there and her lifelong passion for the healthcare field makes her universally well-liked among the people she cares for.