Hello, I’m Cassie and I'm volunteering with the Global Autism Project. I'll be traveling with a team to Chandigarh, India to help develop a school program for students with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The Global Autism Project is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization, with a vision of a world where all people with ASD can learn and reach their potential, no matter where in the world they were born. The organization is dedicated to promoting awareness, education, and collaboration with families and facilities servicing children with autism in twelve different countries around the globe. The Global Autism Project has a model that is rooted in sustainability. They work to send volunteers with experience and professional backgrounds to locations across the globe that are in need of assistance in building lasting intervention programs. My job, as a volunteer with the Global Autism Project is to use my skills, education, and experiences to empower teachers, parents, and local citizens to build sustainable education programs for students with disabilities.
Did you know that many underdeveloped countries throughout the world don’t know what autism is? They don't even have a word for autism! The Global Autism Project aims at teaching about ASD, teaching professionals and parents about evidenced based interventions, and teaching that individuals living with ASD can live meaningful, functional lives. My journey in the field of special education, servicing children with ASD, has been ongoing for the last 10 years! I started in college as an ABA (behavior) therapist; working with families and small children in their homes. In graduate school I went on to work as a job coach with students with disabilities at job sites to promote inclusion in the workplace. Today, I'm a special education teacher in a low income school district where I have been teaching students with a variety of disabilities for the last six years.
The most important part of my job as a special education teacher in a public school setting, is building trust and creating a safe and nurturing environment where students of ALL abilities can grow and learn. There are obvious problems and challenges present in public schools; however, we often take our education system for granted. In low income countries, like the ones skillcorps partners with; prejudice, misunderstanding, and discrimination continues to keep children with different disabilities from attending school safely and obtaining a meaningful education. Children with disabilities in these countries often go undiagnosed, resulting in confusion, misinterpretation, and exclusion. Families may become isolated, or shamed, because within their culture having a child with a disability means that they have committed sins or gone against their religious beliefs and their child is possessed as a consequence of their poor choices. Imagine how alone and isolated they must feel. These families may choose not to reach out for services and supports because they are either too embarrassed or they may not know where to go.
Think of how differently we can impact the lives of these students, their families, and their community as a whole by joining non-profits like skillcorps and creating a sustainable, lasting impact in their communities.
You can help me! Partner with us and help us reach our goal! Your donations are fully donated to the Global Autism Project's efforts and programming in other countries. No portion of your donation is kept by CrowdRise. Monetary donations are needed to be able to help these communities; change is not free. Each person accepted into skillcorps does fundraising before they travel to their volunteer site. I am setting my goal at a minimum of $5,000 before I leave in July 2019. Your donations are greatly appreciated, and will be creating lasting impact in communities for families and children who were simply born in a low-income place.
Asking friends and family for monetary donations can definitely be uncomfortable but skillcorps said that "outside your comfort zone is where growth occurs!" I thought, that is so true! I know this is going to be the most amazing personal and professional development opportunity. I am so excited to join the skillcorp family and see the growth and long term lasting impact both on myself and on the communities that we serve.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story! :)