Monday, June 16, 2014

An Autism Awareness story that is close to my heart....

Autism Awareness Superheros!
Paul Howell and I first met when I wrote him an email telling him that I really liked how he delivered the news on our local television station. I could tell that he owned the anchor chair and was concerned about giving viewers what they needed.  I wrote the email, read through it about 100 times, had second thoughts about 100 times.... and then finally decided to send it!  I wanted to reach my dream of being a journalist, and who better to help than TV news anchor extrordinaire, Paul Howell!!!  I was confident that he could point me in a direction that would start the ball rolling.  I sent the email, relieved I had written and told him about my dream.  I expected that I would get a very generic "Thank You for watching, and best wishes in achieving your career path" reply.  I was totally wrong!  The reply I got was a list of steps that I could possibly take to start on the path of getting my foot in the door of the journalism field.  He suggested that I look into taking a journalism writing course and other college courses that may include an internship.  In addition to a list of steps to take, he also said that if he could help me in anyway, he would be happy to!  I was delighted!  We met a few weeks later at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore.  I couldn't believe that my favorite local anchor was sitting down with me and I was actually able to talk to him about my dream!  So, after calming down and realizing this was really happening, we settled into a conversation ranging from topics of how he got started in the news to his travels abroad.  I felt that he understood where I wanted to go, that my dreams were real, and that he really wanted to help me get there.  After that, it was full steam ahead on the dream train!  Having a disability meant nothing to Paul, but, helping me reach my dream did.  Even to this day, there aren't words to describe how much he motivated me to have the confidence to achieve my passion!  Years passed and Paul went on to marry his wife, Adriana, and they started their family with their bouncing baby boy.  Every parent's happiness is a healthy baby, but then Paul and Adriana started noticing that things weren't quite the same with their son.  The diagnosis of autism followed.  I was able to connect with Paul and interview him about his family's story.  It was incredibly moving for me.  Not only was I sitting across from the person who so patiently gave his time and energy to teach me, but I got the opportunity to show him that his efforts were never lost on me!  I felt honored that he was telling me of their amazing story of courage and resilience!  I was so proud that I could give back to Paul in this personal way.  I was proud that he and Adriana, even in the darkest days after diagnosis, didn't let the darkness last too long.  They wanted their son to live life to the best of his ability and be happy while doing it!  Their family is well on their way to that goal!  First grade in a mainstream classroom was accomplished with lots of hard work and determination!  Paul is still the same guy I met nine years ago.  Disability meant nothing to him then, and it means nothing now.  Helping the son he so deeply cares for and to reach the dreams he dreams of... that is what means the most to Paul and his family!  Autism doesn't define this family at all.. the ability and confidence to achieve dreams does!
                The first day of first grade! Lookin' super! :)            

This family and their heart warming experience is very close to my heart!

Swimming like fish! :)

Michelle Fischer is the host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

For more information on Little Star Center click here:
there are also Little Star Center locations in Lafayette and Bloomington.

Hear my interview with Paul here:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Arc of Indiana's Teaching Hotel and Training Institute: More than just an ordinary building...

I LOVE working for the Arc of Indiana!  2014 began with a major announcement surrounding the creation and building of a hotel that's geared toward giving people with disabilities the option of going to post secondary education after getting out of high school.  Valuable skills will be taught right in the hotel which will open the opportunity to use those skills to gain employment in the hospitality field or in another field of their choice!  My heart is jumping for joy just thinking about how wonderful this project is, and how it will impact lives in untold ways!  This project is changing the face of what employment means for people with disabilities.  Can you imagine the excitement that will go on inside this building once it's built and up and running?  Smiles will be abundant, laughter will fill the halls!  Warm hellos and handshakes will greet you as you walk in.  Personal touches will be seen in every room by all the artwork, made possible through the artistic eye of artists with disabilities.  If you come stay at the hotel from out of town and want something to remind you of your stay in Indiana, I have no doubt that those in the gift shop will jump at the chance to help you find the perfect "Indiana" treasure!  This hotel and training institute is more than just an ordinary building. This building, will change lives.  It will help people with disabilities see what they bring to the table in who they are.  They will be a team player in getting things done for guests and maintaining the hotel, and they will  have chosen to be in the hospitality field.  Think about the word choice...  there are many factors that lead to making different choices for different people, but for people with disabilities, choices are freedom.  Freedom from stereo-types, freedom from can't and won't.  Freedom from feeling useless and not worth anything.  Choices make us feel like everyone else!!  Choices help us to see that we are part of the weave of brings life to our soul and pep in our step!  The Arc Teaching Hotel/ Training Institute will break the stereotype of what is possible in the lives of people with disabilities.  Can you lend a hand to help continue to change stereotypes? To upbuild and encourage, to change the self-image of people with disabilities and give us hope!!  We need your help!!!  Money is made and exchanged for things that we feel are important.  I can't emphasize how important this is......Dreams are one of the things that give life to the soul and the motivation to not give up!!   There are so many things that people with disabilities are up against, that hurt us and break us down, and squash every ounce of hope and confidence out of us everyday.....Don't let the ability to make our own choices be one of them!!  Employment is life, and with your help in donating to this project life will be just that much sweeter!!!  From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you for helping us live the life we have always wanted!!
Jeff Huffman-

Thank you for always wearing your heart on your sleeve and understanding how important changing the landscape is for those of us with disabilities! You are an awesome cheerleader!  I'm glad to know you and your family, to work with you and to call you my friend!  The disability community is so fortunate to have you in their corner! :)

Jeff talks about the hotel and the reason it came about here:

Arc Staff: You all continue to amaze me with how you hold true to your mission to help those with disabilities!  Thank you for allowing me to experience the ride and to experience your incredibly generous hands and hearts in helping me achieve my most cherished dream and allowing me to help others in the most wonderful way possible!
Here's to helping many other dreams be ACHIEVED!!  XOXO!

Michelle is the host of A View From My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

I thought this was an interesting article I read the other day and thought it went along with this post!

For more information and to make a donation to the Teaching Hotel/Training Institute click this link: