Throughout the next few weeks, the HDS Foundation will be highlighting several students from the Cypress Bay High School and Homestead Senior High School B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Social Personal Skills Program. We are proud of each student and their accomplishments throughout the school year. We look forward to another successful year with them in 2021.
Today, we’d like to highlight Blake, an 11th-grade student at Cypress Bay High School. Blake enjoys going to school, learning new things, and spending time with his friends. He likes cooking, baking, and helping his mom fold and put away the laundry.
One of Blake’s strengths is socializing and having great conversations with his classmates. He expressed that he is confident when he talks to others and can stay calm and relaxed. Asking questions is a challenge for Blake; he is working to become more assertive and asking questions when he doesn’t understand the subject at hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the learning platform for all students, Blake has acclimated well to virtual learning and has thrived through these unprecedented times. Although he enjoys being around his friends at school, he is doing very well in keeping up with his assignments and deadlines. He enjoys the Social Personal Skills (B.R.I.D.G.E.S.) class and has made many friends along the way. He feels that the course has given him various opportunities that have helped him become more independent.
In his spare time, Blake likes to play video games. After high school, his goal is to be a gamer and develop donation streams to raise money for multiple charities. Blake considers himself a talented singer; his dream is to be on American Idol and be recognized for his unique voice.
On April 30th, HDS Foundation President Cristina Miranda Gilson, along with Board Members, Meagan Bouscher and Kate Gilson Miranda, Program Manager, Liz Falk, PR Consultant, Rixys Alfonso, Cypress Bay BRIDGES Facilitator, Kathy Gorman-Gard and Dr. Tara Rowe, Director of THRIVE Program at University of North Florida all had an opportunity to participate in a live webinar with Dr. Temple Grandin.
Temple, a world-renowned autism spokesperson, scientist, and inventor who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 and did not begin speaking until she was 4 years old. The webinar gave participants insight to the successes and challenges she has faced throughout her life having autism. Dr. Grandin also shared stories of her childhood and what others with autism can do to improve the quality of their life.
Temple took the time to answer many of the participants questions. HDS Foundation Junior Board Member, Kate Gilson Miranda, who is studying Early Childhood with a minor in Disabilities at the University of North Florida, sent in a question for Dr. Grandin to answer and asked about how she could make parents of young children feel confident that she can do a great job working with their children. Temple gave her some very good advice and told Kate to make a video with her working with children. She states that it is important to show everyone what you can do so they are not focused on your disability.
Everyone enjoyed participating in this webinar. It was wonderful to get some insight into Dr. Grandin’s life and how she has not allowed her disability to hold her back. She has written many books and continues to travel around the world sharing her story and inspiring others in her journey to help those with Autism.
Dr. Temple Grandin is a prominent author and has written many books on autism. Her most comprehensive book for parents and educators is called The Way I See It (A Personal Outlook on Autism). Another book that she wrote, Thinking in Pictures (My Life with Autism) is her personal autobiography about visual thinking. Lastly, The Autistic Brain (Helping Different Minds Succeed) focuses on visual thinking, math, or pattern thinking, and word thinking which will be useful for fully verbal children teenagers, and adults. Temple also includes a large section of this book on careers and jobs.
Families that are interested in participating in any of Dr. Temple Grandin’s upcoming webinars, can register on Temple’s website: Dr. Temple Grandin, Ph.D. templegrandin.com.
On Thursday, May 7th, the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class had a special guest speaker attend one of their Zoom meetings. Kate Gilson Miranda, a former Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. student, joined the Zoom meeting to share her experience transitioning from high school to college.
The meeting started with a class discussion as they all answered the question, “What do you see yourself doing when you leave high school?” The students all responded with a variety of answers. Some of the students wanted to go off to college, others wanted to attend a certification program at a local hospital, and a few wanted to get out into the workforce. Stephanie, a senior shared her short- and long-term goals with the others. First, she would like to complete a local hospital program, then get a job at a veterinarian’s office.
After the discussion, Kate introduced herself telling the class that she is currently a student at the University of North Florida (UNF) majoring in Early Childhood while minoring in Disabilities. After this introduction, Kate was interviewed by HDS Foundation Program Manager, Liz Falk. Liz began to ask Kate questions about her experience transitioning from Cypress Bay to UNF. Kate gave tips that helped make her transition easier, while also sharing the challenges she faced especially during her initial transition to college. She emphasized how important and helpful the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program was in her journey. It prepared her to become more independent when it was time to go to UNF. Another tip that made things easier was taking the time to research what different colleges and universities had to offer, so she could choose one that fit her needs the best. Even though Kate spent time preparing to make the transition easier, she did face a few challenges. The biggest challenge was coming from a high school where she was involved in MANY activities, and then transitioning to a big university where she did not know anyone.
After talking about her transition experience, Liz asked Kate to share what it’s like at UNF. Kate started the conversation off with how she spends her weekends. Kate uses her weekends to wind down from her hectic schedule during the week. She states that sometimes she attends social events like movie nights, sporting events, and the beach. Her favorite social activity is volunteering with the THRIVE program and participating in activities with her Kappa Alpha sorority.
Kate was asked about her means of transportation on and off campus to attend classes, social events, and other activities during the year. Kate answered by telling the class that she rides her bike or walks to class. When she needs to leave campus and go shopping, she will call an Uber.
When asked about how she takes care of her laundry and cooking, Kate states that she learned by watching her mom do laundry while growing up. She would watch her mother separate the colors from the whites. As for cooking, Kate enjoys looking for new recipes on Pinterest and trying out new healthy meals.
After talking about living independently, Kate gave tips on class and assignments. She emphasized how critical it is to be organized with assignments and making sure they get turned in on time. Something that helps her is using the calendar app on her phone to send reminders and make sure she does not forget any assignments. The students all had great questions to ask Kate about her successful transition. It was a very informative meeting for the BRIDGES students.
Kate’s road to independent living has empowered her to learn to make her own decisions and feel confident in her choices. Her advice to the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. students about transitioning from high school to post- secondary was, “Take your time and enjoy high school. When you get to college, the other students are accepting of you and you don’t need to be afraid to try new things.”
The time that you all have been waiting for has finally arrived!!! During the last few weeks, the HDS Foundation has been putting in hard work, day and night, to make sure we have a new and improved Resource Page for YOU!
The Foundation’s primary mission is to provide resources for families, and organizations who Mentor, Teach, Develop, and Support individuals on the Autism Spectrum and beyond. With that being said, we have decided to create a “Toolbox for Success” to assist other parents and caregivers of teens and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder or related disabilities in pursuing their transitional journey. The “Toolbox for Success” equips the student, parents, and families with the necessary tools and supports that will help prepare them for a smooth transition.
We essentially have the resources grouped in the same categories as the tools from the toolkit. These categories include:
- Advocacy & Policy
- Community Services
- Family Focused Organizations
- Post Secondary Education
- Social, Health, and Wellness
- Transitional Resources
For more information, click on the Resources tab above or please contact Liz Falk, HDS Foundation, Program Manager at email@example.com or call (954) 217-9597, ext. 260.
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