The Topanga Messenger did a beautiful cover piece encapsulating the warmth and significance of our special fundraiser evening on February 27, 2014.
The Topanga Messenger did a beautiful cover piece encapsulating the warmth and significance of our special fundraiser evening on February 27, 2014.
Los Angeles, CA- February 20, 2014- Autism Unites, an organization devoted to helping young adults with autism using “the art of connection” as its guiding principle, will be hosting a fundraiser for its new film production vocational training program, the Los Angeles Vocational Academy of the Arts (LAVAArts).
The event, featuring a special musical performance by Robby Krieger of The Doors, will take place at a private estate in Brentwood (1060 Oakmont Drive) on February 27, 2014 at 7 p.m. Robby Krieger has partnered with award-winning producer George Paige to help launch LAVAArts with the filming of a feature-length documentary, Topanga, on the music and culture of Topanga Canyon.
The film chronicles the lives and events of Topanga Canyon musicians from the 1960s through the 1980s. “It’s a music-fueled inside story about this mystical mountain retreat,” states the film’s producer, George Paige. “Most importantly, it is an opportunity to bring young people with autism in on the film through LAVAArts, helping them make real connections and learn about the industry by matching them up with our production team and crew members.”
According to current research, individuals with autism spectrum disorders have the highest rate of unemployment of any disability, even though they have many strengths and exceptional creativity to offer. Autism Unites developed its new social integration model to address this issue for adults with autism and help them achieve a higher quality of life filled with friends, meaningful employment, and the ability to become important members of their communities.
In addition to an exclusive experience with The Doors’ legendary rocker, attendees at the private home fundraiser will enjoy performances by master percussionist and oud player Hani Naser, Fame’s Lee Curreri, and musical savant Rex Lewis, who recently performed at the home of Vice President Biden. Donors who contribute $500 or more at the event will receive a thank you credit on the documentary film, Topanga. Die-hard Doors fans also have the opportunity to bid on a jam session with Robby Krieger and Hani Naser. Items in the Live and Silent Auctions include Krieger’s own artwork and a guitar and drumheads signed by the artists.
Tickets are available at: http://www.autismspectrumintegratedservices.com Autism Unites is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) Incorporation, also known as Autism Spectrum Integrated Services (ASIS). Its mission is to help young adults with autism integrate into their communities and the workplace using a unique social and vocational integrative model called Match-A-Friend. Young adults in the program are matched with industry professionals trained by the organization to provide them with advocacy information, social skills support, and on-the-job employment experience.
Amazing Blog in the “Arts of Autism” Newsletter written by Debra Hosseini about our non-profit “Autism Unites” – our philosophy and services. Read the blog @ http://the-art-of-autism.com/autism-unites-the-power-of-relationships-and-connections/
Picture below: Autism Unites’ Fundraiser on February 27, 2014 with Robbie Krieger of the Doors to benefit Autism Unites’ Vocational Academy of the Arts (LAVAArts), A New Model of Employment Training for Young Adults with Autism. The fundraiser took place at a beautiful Mandeville Canyon estate of Les Joseph, who is a mentor and long time fiend of Jacob Levy, a young adult with autism..
Great Article by Debra Hosseini where she mentions Autism Unites’ Vocational Academy of the Arts (LAVAArts).
The Article by Elaine Hall posted February 27, 2014
Elaine shares her journey of raising a son with severe autism, from toddlerhood through bar mitzvah age to where he’s at now, at almost 20 years old.
Elaine is the creator of The Miracle Project, a theatre and film program for children of all abilities, profiled in the Emmy Award HBO documentary, AUTISM: The Musical
Posted at “Kveller”, a Jewish Twist for Parenting Magazine as a part of month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month.
Read this beautiful article at http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/after-raising-a-son-with-severe-autism-i-have-redefined-normal/
“…Now almost 20 years old, he has exceeded many of the expectations I had long buried. He has two jobs, one at the Shalom Institute in their organic garden, the other at The Farms, our local grocery store. He is learning about organic gardening and wants a career as an organic gardener….”
“…Through The Miracle Project he has become the star of an HBO film, “Autism: The Musical,” and he is a semi-professional model, posing for Kate Winslet’s book, “The Golden Hat”, and as one of the faces of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation’s ‘I Am’ campaign on billboards throughout LA…. In April of 2013, this severely autistic, once deemed cognitively impaired young adult ‘spoke’ using his voice activated app SpeakIt on his iPad at The United Nations in front of 400 people where we were both invited to present for World Autism Awareness Day…”
My name is Sara Wolff. I am a 31 year-old from Moscow, Pennsylvania, who happens to have Down syndrome but that doesn’t stop me from achieving “my” better life. I work as a law clerk and also at Keystone Community Resources in the Office of Advocacy. I am a board member of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). I’m calling on Congress to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647), a bill that will help individuals with disabilities to save for their futures.
Read the petition @
According to a new study released in the Journal of Autism and Developmental DisordersMadison examined 153 adults with autism and found that greater vocational independence and engagement led to improvements in core features of autism, other problem behaviors and ability to take care of oneself.
“We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measurable improvements in their behaviors and daily living skills overall,” said lead author Julie Lounds Taylor Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator. “One core value in the disability community and at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is placing people with disabilities in the most inclusive environments possible. In addition, this study gives us evidence that increasing the level of independence in an employment or vocational setting can lead to improvements in autism symptoms and other associated behaviors.”
read the whole article at http://healing4soul.com/blog-4-soul/334-employment-may-lead-to-improvement-in-autism-symptoms
The Japanese man who invented a small machine for converting plastic back to oil (Akinori) is now seems to be marketing his machines. Here is a very brief TED talk: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxTokyo-Akinori-Ito-Liquid-Po;search%3Atag%3A%22ep110802%22
His company is called Blest. It would be great to have such machine in every household!! …and to have floating conversion laboratory to take care of the plastic islands in the ocean!!
This machine was implemented in North America and is being tested. Here is article by CBC News Posted: Sep 11, 2012
Whitehorse gets machine to convert plastic into oil
Machine is the first of its kind to operate in North America:
by Debra Hosseini
When we moved to Carpinteria 17 years ago, I thought I would stay here forever – retire here.
Even though the Art of Autism is an international project which highlights the gifts of autism, I feel I’ve not made much impact on my home community. That’s why many see the neuro-diversity movement as the last civil right’s movement.
Kurt and I will be moving soon too.
Kevin, Kurt and I all are neuro-diverse people. We’re weird. We lack social skills. We are the freaks and geeks of our community.
Sandy Hook shows how a community can either embrace an individual with challenges, or exclude and isolate them. A community can create an Adam Lanza or a responsible citizen.
Logan Laplante is a 13 year-old boy who was taken out of the education system to be home schooled instead. Not only was he home schooled, but Logan had the ability to tailor his education to his interests and also his style of learning, something traditional education does not offer. As Logan has mentioned, when he grows up he wants to be happy and healthy.
“What if we based education on the study and practice of being healthy and happy. Education is important, but why being happy and healthy not considered education. I just don’t get it!” say Logan. See video at: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/01/07/this-is-what-happens-when-a-kid-leaves-traditional-education/#sthash.GhcbWzM9.dpuf
This is why we select, train and monitor all Adam’s caregivers. Watch the video:
Published: 12/24/2013 by Elaine Hall
These tips will help children with special needs manage all sorts of transitions and new situations
Transitions can cause tremendous anxiety for a child with special needs. Often, it is not the new place itself that may illicit fear in children living with AD/HD, OCD, sensory processing disorder, or autism. Instead, it is the potential for sensory or social-emotional elements that could cause them to feel out of control that causes the fear.
The more you can prepare your child with visual aids and stories, the more your child will feel in control over his or her environment, making the transition less stressful.
I like to call this “Rehearsing for Life” or “Practice Makes Progress!”
With a little rehearsing, even the most challenging situations can be transitioned without fear.
I recall one evening when my student, Sloan, who had long overcome her fears of social groups and was usually smiling, friendly and joyous, came to class clearly upset. She didn’t want to participate in any of the activities, and sat by herself tightly grasping her American Girl doll. Rachel, one of our teen volunteers joined her and discovered that Sloan was anxious about a fire drill scheduled to occur the next day at school. We immediately discarded the original lesson planned for the evening and gathered all the students together to discuss fire drills.
“Has anyone ever been afraid of a fire drill?” I asked. Several hands rose. Immediately, Sloan felt calmer knowing that she was not alone in her fears.
The students (all with special needs of their own) offered suggestions to Sloan, such as bringing ear plugs, asking the teacher if she can carry her doll with her, letting a friend know that she is scared, etc. Since this was The Miracle Project theater class, we choose to dramatize a fire drill and then play act a real fire! Some kids became firefighters, others pretended to be trapped in the burning building, some acted as the fire, itself, blazing around the building while the fire fighters used imaginary hoses to quench the flames. A group of kids exited the pretend building and waited for the principal to motion that the fire was out and it was safe to return to class.
We discussed how fire drills aren’t real and are just practicing in case of a real fire, just like we just practiced putting out our imaginary fire. We all then acted out a fire drill, exiting the real building where our class was held and lining up outside. We returned and wrote a song together for Sloan to hum the next day in school: “It’s only pretend, there is no fire. I’m your friend and I’ll be right behind ya.”
The next week, Sloan bounced into The Miracle Project all smiles. When Rachel asked her about the fire drill, she beamed, “I wasn’t scared! I wasn’t scared at all!”
The kids all cheered.
Key 1: Set your intention to be curious. Uncover the root of the fear of the new activity.
Key 2: Accept the fear as natural. Instead of saying, “Don’t be afraid,” explore the feelings and find others who may have had them, too. Practice calming techniques such as deep breathing to help ease anxiety.
Key 3: Examine the sensory elements that might be causing the fear. Offer strategies such as wearing head phones if your child is sound sensitive, carrying a squeezy toy to decrease stress, or singing a comforting song, to help deal with the potential sensory assault .
Key 4: Take photos of a new environment or look on the internet for visuals of new places and events.
Key 5: Play act the event and offer possible solutions to allow choices in a new environment. Carol Grey’s Social Stories improve understanding of events and can lead to more effective responses.
Key 6: Break a large transition into small, manageable parts. Carolyn Dalgliesh’s new book, The Sensory Child Gets Organized provides suggestions for helping to break down new environments into smaller parts.
Key 7: Celebrate your child’s courage for attempting to do something new at every opportunity. This builds competence that carries over into all environments. Just as Sloan, with the help of her friends, overcame her fear of fire drills; your child, too, will begin to know that you are an ally and together you can do anything!
Elaine Hall is a thought leader; motivational speaker; inclusion activist; founder of The Miracle Project, profiled in the HBO film, Autism: The Musical; author of Now I See the Moon (HarperCollins) and 7 Keys to Unlock Autism (Wiley); and creator of an arts enrichment and religious education program at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services.
Though not a documentary, the scenes are based on the real life experiences of Florentina in how she overcomes her medical & developmental disability challenges while bringing down the walls of discrimination through her Art as Her Voice.
The film is not about disabilities, it’s about people accepting each other for being individuals in their own unique ways; Flipping that Switch…realizing We are All Connected. Sharing our message in such an uplifting artistic fashion will engage folks in all walks of life, at any age, helping children and adults alike see the world with an open and accepting heart.
“We usually talk about challenges of autism, we seldom consider its gifts”
Seth lives in Cleveland, Ohio. At age of 2 he was diagnosed with autism. Till the age of 20 he did not communicate. Seth counselor suggested that Seth consider mopping floors as a career, instead his mom enrolled him in one last therapy, a class at the museum of art. Suddenly at 20, the boy who barely speaks began to communicate. “He has incredible focus. He is as certain in his painting as he is lost in reality,” comments his mom. Here is the video about Seth.
Ice Skating rink in Santa Monica open for the holidays in 85 degree weather!
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year 2014!!!
Photos by E. Alexandra
By Debra Muzikar, co-founder of The Art of Autism with Keri Bowers
YAY, no attorneys, only positivity.
Kevin staying in his home community.
Thanks to all who were at the meeting to support positiveness – That’s what Autistics are teaching us.
Thanks to all in attendance. Probably 20 people.
The truth will always be revealed and people will get back on purpose doing what they can with love and compassion in service.
Fear is going away. Our world is changing YAY, Kevin is a leader working with me to translate.
I guess I’m now an Autistic whisperer. What is best for the child with be revealed.
Next thing is to get him off the meds and friends and a girlfriend.
By Debra Hosseini
When Kevin was in the mental hospital he didn’t receive the correct combination of meds. The nurse didn’t have his anti-psychotic on the list. They messed up the dosages on his other meds as well. On his birthday, he had a psychotic break and yelled out he was going to hurt several people. The psychiatrist reported Kevin to the Sheriff’s Office. There is a law that was passed in the 1970′s about mandatory reporting.
I leave the Sheriff’s Office with Kevin.
“Why can’t I say hi to them, Mom?” Kevin asks me.
“Because when you were in the hospital you threatened them.”
“I don’t feel like hurting them now,” he says.
“They don’t know that,” I say.
“What if I see them in the store?”
“You’re to walk the other way and don’t walk past the middle school anymore with Nick.” Nick is the social facilitator who works with Kevin twice a week. They often walk downtown and practice purchasing items from local stores.
“Are you going to tell Nick? What if you don’t remember? Sometimes you forget to tell him things.”
“I’ll remember to tell Nick, Kevin.”
“Where do they live?”
I tell Kevin the addresses he’s to stay away from. We live in a small town. He needs to change his route. We live across from the school he’s to stay away from.
He’s to stay away from their cars as well. I guess I need to email Cindy Rief, his transition teacher about what type of cars they drive. I also need a photo of her son Dylan. She put him on the restraining order as well. Kevin is to stay away from the Farm Stand where I buy my produce. Because Jose works there.
“Go behind our condominium when walking downtown and don’t walk on the streets by the beach. If you want go to Albertson’s walk across the bridge and go that way,” I explain
“Are they going to call the Police if they see me?”
“I don’t know Kevin.” I’m becoming weary of this conversation and oh so tired.
“I don’t want to go to jail, Mom.”
I’m thankful the Sheriff’s have compassion.
“He doesn’t seem to be a threat. I’m recommending this be reduced to an incident,” he says, “When we found out he had autism, we realized he shouldn’t be in jail.”
“Thank you,” I say. I’m grateful someone in this town has our backs.
I wonder about autism and privacy laws. We live in litigious times. People are so influenced by happenings in the media.
“What about the Down Syndrome Association parties?” I ask the Sheriff. “These people are at those parties. This is the only dances Kevin gets to go to each year.”
“Well, Kevin the good thing is, Eric still wants to work with you.” Eric is Kevin’s full-time aide. Thank God for Eric. It seems each year one person steps us and is a true friend and advocate for Kevin.
“Am I going to be able to go to City College next semester?” Kevin asks.
“I don’t know Kevin. Maybe Ventura College.” Now I know Carpinteria wants Kevin far away in another state.
“Think about a residential placement. There’s a good one in Ohio.”
“I don’t want to go to Ventura College. I want to go to City College. Ryan’s going to be there,” Kevin says.
We have a meeting on Friday to discuss Kevin’s placement.
“Am I a bad person, mom?”
“No Kevin, you’re a good person. I’m taking care of this for you.”
The good thing is this entire incident is making us reconnect with wonderful people from our past. Yesterday the preschool owner Marilyn Discoveries contacted us, his old teacher Amber reached out in support, and I receive dozens of emails from around the country. Deputy Powers, who now is working at UCSB reached out as well.
After another sleepless night, I sent this letter to the Superintendent this morning to distribute to his teachers and staff. There seems to be mass hysteria in our community about Kevin, my son who is Autistic. I hope he sends it out.
My son Kevin, seems to have lost his dignity in Carpinteria. Kevin is Autistic. Autism is a neurological difference that affects social and communication. Often people with autism say things that come to their mind with no filter. It is difficult for them to lie. They often repeat things they see on television. This causes much misunderstanding. Kevin has never hurt a teacher.He doesn’t talk of hurting teachers. He doesn’t even mention teachers, except for one teacher he had a crush on.
Kevin checked himself into a mental hospital because he was having difficulty with a medication change. The hospital failed to deliver the correct medications and he went into a state of acute psychoses and shouted out some things that now have been misconstrued and taken out of context.
Unfortunately, Kevin confidentiality while in that hospital has been breached.
This has caused extreme consequences for Kevin. He can’t walk the streets of his home town. Someone tried to keep him from attending his job. He attended it anyway because he has the right to have a job, as do all people with disabilities.
You don’t have to be scared of Kevin anymore. We are trying to facilitate a change of placement to a community which will be supportive of Kevin. I will be moving as well. I’m deeply disappointed in the community of Carpinteria. Please do not harass Kevin if you see him on the street and don’t be afraid of him.
When he graduated from high school last year, all the students stood in applause when he received his diploma. The students know Kevin. They accept him. Unfortunately, the adults seem to have the problem.
“I love Carpinteria,” Kevin said last summer. “When I get older can I buy a house and live here all my life?”
“Maybe you’ll live at Palm Lofts,” I say, “Like other artists.”
“Am I a disappointment?” Kevin asked his dad the other day.
“No, Kevin, why?”
“It seems I made so much work for you.”
Kevin will be moving when we find a better place for him. A loving community who embraces diversity.
I thought I would live in this small town my entire life. But I’ll be moving too.
I don’t want to live in a community that is ruled by fear and not compassion.
Goodbye – Carpinteria
The Art of Autism BLOG @ http://the-art-of-autism.com/kevin-hosseini-autistic-young-man-shunned-in-local-community/
Debra Hosseini, Carpinteria resident, was outraged yesterday when her son Kevin Hosseini, 19, received a restraining order from the Sheriff’s Office. The Restraining Order was on behalf of his Special Education teacher Cindy Rief, a special education aide, and a student, Jose.
Kevin attends the SEALS transition program for young adults with developmental disabilities. It’s a program which teaches life skills under the Special Education Department of Carpinteria Unified School District. The program is new this year.
Kevin is autistic. People with autism often say whatever comes into their head. They have no filter. It is difficult for autistic people to lie. They often repeat things seen on television. Kevin has never directly threatened the teacher or aide. The threat was made indirectly when Kevin experienced a difficult medication change while at Aurora Vista Del Mar hospital. On the day Kevin went into the hospital Cindy Rief expressed surprise sending an email saying how well Kevin was doing in the SEALS program that year.
Students with developmental disabilities are protected under federal laws. The School District failed many federally mandated Safeguards and Procedures when Kevin was released from the hospital. Kevin visited Dr. Robert Nagy the day after his release. Dr. Nagy expressed pleasure at Kevin’s progress.
Kevin should have been allowed to return to school, but instead was put on “home hospital,” with an aide Eric Gregg.
Eric decided to stand by Kevin when Special Education teacher Cindy Rief another special educator and her aide took out an Emergency Protection Order. Kevin has been under an E.P.O. for the last week.
In addition, Kevin was banned from walking on the Middle School or High School campus.
Debra has heard from good sources that Mr. Merritt, the Middle School teacher has told his teachers and staff to call 911 if Kevin goes on the campus.
Kevin can’t walk many of the streets in his home community.
In the last week, Special Education teacher, Cindy Rief, filed a complaint with Santa Barbara City College, which suspended Kevin from attending his classes. Kevin and his aide Eric, were told to leave campus on Monday, by Superintendent Paul Cordeiro.
Kevin had to make special arrangements with Santa Barbara City College to complete his P.E. class and take his College Success final. Kevin is the only student in the SEALS program to take an academic class.
On Thursday, Kevin was told he could not attend his regular job at Giovanni’s Pizza. Debra had to call the Sheriff’s office to arrange Kevin to attend his job.
“Kevin is the Rosa Parks of autism,” Debra says.
The Sheriff who served Kevin said, “The Captain will stand behind Kevin in court. This woman is way out of line.”
Kevin painted this of Deputy Powers and him when he was 14. Kevin likes the Sheriff’s.
Debra Hosseini thinks that Cindy Rief has taken advantage of Kevin’s breakdown to avenge a complaint she made about Cindy Rief 18 months ago. The Hosseini family feels isolated in Carpinteria. Debra feels that Cindy has turned the entire community against her family and Kevin.
“I’m very disappointed, even people who I thought were Kevin’s friends have turned their back on him and believe he is dangerous. It seems many people lack compassion.”
Kevin has been doing better than ever. He finished his College Success class with a “B.”
“Mom, how long do I have to stay away from them?” Kevin asks. “Can I talk to them when I’m twenty-five?”
“We haven’t told Kevin very much about this, “Debra says. We don’t want him to feel bad about his disability.
Debra is seeking a residential placement for Kevin in a different community.
“I want Kevin to reside in a loving, compassionate community which embraces differences,” Debra says. Debra is contemplating moving out of Carpinteria herself. “I never knew so many people hated us,” she said.
In the meantime, Kevin and his aide Eric, work on life skills two hours a day at a mobile park recreation room.
“I’m disappointed that they didn’t give him the same hours as the other students because his dad and I have had to rearrange our schedule so someone is with Kevin the rest of the day.”
Debra says, “I don’t know why these teachers are so afraid. Kevin never even talks about Mrs. Rief, Penny or Jose.”
Kevin has an appointment on Tuesday to talk to the Dean of Students at City College about his “bad behavior.”
At this point, Debra thinks Kevin needs a restraining order from his Special Education teacher.
Debra has set up a facebook page for Kevin End Autistic Discrimination.
Kevin is a talented artist who has art on display at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Kevin’s website is www.kevingallery.com
Debra is founder of The Art of Autism www.the-art-of-autism.com a collaborative of over 300 artists, poets, entertainers, and authors on the autism spectrum. The Art of Autism focuses on the gifts of people on the autism spectrum and has exhibits and presentations throughout the United States and Canada.
Our friend, Kevin Hosseini, an autistic young man, has been banned from his school, can’t walk the streets of his home town freely and is being denied FAPE