Through Easter Seals Crossroads, a local company that provides a variety of resources to people with developmental disorders to promote social skills, I paired with a fellow student with autism. We meet once a week for at least an hour to discuss the academic and social goals of the student for a semester. At each meeting, we would discuss the events of the week, how the semester is progressing, and coping mechanisms to obtain the goals previously set for the semester. The Peer XChange program was founded to help provide students with autsim a network of fellow students and to have realistic goals to reach.
As part of this program, we also had several social outings to encourage the development of better social coping mechanisms. The student I worked with had an interest in archaelogy so I researched local areas and discounted admissions for students and we decided to visit the Children's Museum. Although this may seem like a simple outing, this visit helped the student with his social skills in crowded settings and keeping a conversation with someone else over a long period of time.
This experience helped me gain a better understanding of how people with autism, especially adolescents and young people, function within their environment and the challenges that they face. It is a great experience to volunteer with people that have different capabilities because it provides insight on how various people interpret the world and interact with their settings. I have learned that it is extremely important, yet still rare, for people with disabilities to be treated with the same respect and courtesy. After this volunteer experience, my interest in advocating for and working with people with disabilities has been peaked and I constantly keep me mind that these people commonly don't receive the same opportunities as everyone else.