by Lea Rubenstein, Darchei Noam

In our second TAP session of the school year, we learned about what autism is and how it affects each individual differently. We began with a short video clip from Sesame Street featuring the muppet Julia, a young, nonverbal autistic girl who is friends with the other characters, Elmo and Abby. After the video, we discussed different ways Julia’s friends made her feel safe amongst them. Our group was very fortunate to have Noah, an intelligent Jewish speaker, attend our Zoom meeting and answer the questions we had about how to best address the unique needs of those with autism in our lives.

In my life, I have met many peers who have autism, but never been one-on-one for more than a short time. This changed only a few months ago when one of my closest friends told me that he was diagnosed, and the news fascinated me more than I believed possible. I learned that autism comes in various forms and differs from person to person, thus being flexible rather than having one concrete method of interacting is key to connecting and making each person feel comfortable. Through the rest of my TAP experience, I hope to further my understanding of the way that mental disabilities affect individuals and how I can be the best supporter I can be.