“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Today is a day that will forever be etched in our minds with memories of what Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) stood up for. He took a stance for inclusion and to bring minorities into the mainstream by giving them opportunities they didn’t have before. It is no secret that his dedication towards the advancement for all brought change into our American society that we still experience today.
As we continue to provide equal opportunities for all, the Americans with Disabilities Act emerged approximately three decades after MLK’s speech. So, as the BHW family reflects on this day, let’s ask ourselves what positive change are we bringing for those with autism and other developmental challenges? Did you know that after each and every session you finish with your clients, you are placing your positive footprint in this world of change for the better?
As we ask what else we can do, here’s a brief list of the accomplishments that have been achieved thus far as we look forward to the future.
Special Olympics represents the support for individuals with disabilities to be included and to engage in international competition. It is an opportunity to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together. In the preparation for these events, individuals get involved by not only practicing but also building and strengthening new and former friendships with their fellow competitors. To continue this sense of camaraderie, the 2018 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held to bring together a diverse group of people and build an even stronger community that embraces inclusivity through sports.
Employment for individuals affected by autism has definitely changed over the past few years. On April 1st 2016 (International Autism Day), Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Mary Ellen Smith, came before the representatives of 193 countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and announced Microsoft’s pilot program for hiring people on the autism spectrum. From software engineering, data sciences, customer service and operations to specialized teams such as Windows, Xbox, and HoloLens, Microsoft is expanding their candidate pool to provide promising careers for individuals with autism.
Inclusive stories throughout the television, movies, media and entertainment arena
As characters with autism appear in more plays, films and on television, the stigma of autism becomes less. Two years ago, Sesame Street’s first ever character with autism named Julia was introduced. CBS has also impacted the autism community greatly with Sheldon, a main character on the Big Bang Theory. Sheldon plays a scientific genius who works at a local university and displays several characteristics that are symptoms to individuals that have Aspergers. In addition, Pixar has recently created a movie, Inside Out (2015), aimed to help all individuals, especially on the autism spectrum, understand and visualize their emotions.
As our future continues to get brighter and acceptance continues to grow, let us not forget those who started the process. Those who fought to liberate our world and to change the mindset towards embracing and empowering others to be proud of their heritage, uniqueness and individuality. BHW would like to honor Martin Luther King Jr. for being one of our many pioneers that have created the positive and lasting change that has left a legacy of change throughout many generations.