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First Woman With Autism Passes The Bar And Becomes An Attorney In Florida

Haley Moss is the first person with autism to pass the Florida bar exam and successfully become an attorney at 24 years old. 

At only three years old, she was able to complete 100-piece jigsaw puzzles and read by herself, although she was behind in speaking. After her parents realized that she was remarkably gifted in different non-verbal talents, yet found difficulty in expressing herself with words, her parents took her for a check-up and were told she had autism. A year after her diagnosis, she started speaking and was transferred to mainstream classrooms. 

At the age of 15, Moss wrote her first book titled “Middle School – The Stuff Nobody Tells You About It: A Teenage Girl With ASD Shares Her First Experiences.” In the last ten years, she also contributed writing to a book of essays, completed another book, lead speaking engagements and created art pieces. 

“I first shared my story at a conference when I was 13 years old,” 24-year-old Moss told CBS News. “I’ve always enjoyed getting to connect and share.”

By consistently proving countless times that her numerous abilities overcome her one disability, Moss continuously advocates for others with autism. “I’ve always been raised to give back and help others in need and help the community,” she said. “It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an even bigger village to raise a child with a disability … I realized by sharing my story, I could be a part of someone else’s village.”

After graduating from the University of Florida, Moss took up Law in the University of Miami. “I wanted to go to law school because I wanted to make a difference for other people,” she said. “Lawyers help their community. What better way [to make a difference] than to become a lawyer.” She graduated in May of 2018 and successfully got a job even before passing the bar.

As of today, Moss is practicing law that is mainly focused on international matters and healthcare.  She plans to inspire everyone else in the spectrum with her success, showing them that nothing is impossible. If she can make a difference in a person’s life, then everything she has succeeded in doing will be worth it. 

“Whether it’s somebody on the spectrum that says ‘Thank you for sharing your story,’ or it’s a parent of a newly-diagnosed child that tells me, ‘Wow, you gave me so much hope for my kid. I can’t wait to see what my kid’s going to be able to do when they get older.’ Yes, it’s definitely an impact.”

  May 29, 2019

Meet India’s first male model with autism

The 19-year-old Pranav Bakhshi is now with a leading Delhi-based modelling agency called Ninjas Model Management.

Brooding eyes, dashing looks and a natural flair for posing is what impresses you when you glance through model Pranav Bakhshi’s Instagram profile. The 19-year-old is breaking the myth that the fashion industry is not suited for those with autism.

Pranav calls autism his superpower and is determined to live his life on his own terms and is now living his modelling dreams. He wants to walk the ramp for international brands and become one of the leading male models. He has already walked for some well-known high street labels.The 19-year-old is now with a leading Delhi-based modelling agency called Ninjas Model Management. The agency is run by Ninja Singh, who is a model herself and has modelled for leading cosmetic brands internationally. The day Pranav came to sign the contract with Ninja’s office, she knew that they guy had all the qualities it takes to be a good model. His mood was well captured on the camera and his digitals looked quite professional. His agency has already started getting booking request for him from various clients. In a very short span, he has become quite a pro in modelling.

Before signing up with the modelling agency, Pranav and his mother Anupama Bakhshi sent several emails to various modelling agencies in the country, but nobody showed interest. But with this modelling agency, which is promoting inclusivity in fashion, realised Pranav’s talent and gave him a chance to be a part of it. “He had those looks and trait that’s needed for a model and that was enough for me to sign him up with the agency,” says Ninja. “We as a company want to prove our patriotic acumen. It is the first time in history that India will represent such diversity like nowhere else in the world. We are proud that India will invigorate fashion is a very moralistic sense,” she adds. Pranav’s role model in modelling is Spanish supermodel Jon Kortajarena. Apart from fashion, Pranav is also interested in photography and plays golf.

Pranav’s mother Anupama Bakhshi can’t be more proud of her son’s achievements. He was two, when she got to know about his condition. But she took things in her stride and made sure that she would let her son do whatever he wishes to do in his life and give him that space where he feels happy and content.

“We were in a mall when suddenly he came up to me showing a billboard. He expressed his desire to model and I could only agree with his decision. Pranav is very well aware that he has autism and is fighting it on a day to day basic. But he is a strong man and I really want the other kids with autism to take inspiration from him and believe in themselves,” says his mother.

Pranav has 40 per cent disability and also suffers from echolalia (a condition in which you repeat what others say). He has severe anxiety issues and extreme obsessions. However, all of this isn’t stopping Pranav from following his modelling dreams.

  May 28, 2019

Meet the young adults with autism to get their fingers inked for the first time

Many adults with autism cast their votes for the first time in the general elections that just got over. By being responsible citizens, they exercised their rights in formation of the government.

Twenty five-year-old Brian Varghese Pradeep from Kerala voted for the first time in this election and still feels a thrill when he talks about the experience. Brian did enough research before deciding who he was going to vote for as he was fully conscious of his role as a responsible citizen. Like him, many young adults with autism cast their votes for their first time.

Akshay Bhatnagar, 27, from Jaipur was even chosen as the brand ambassador of the ECI, the first time that an adult with autism was given the honour. Akshay has voted earlier but the visibility this time was quite exciting for him, says mother Pratibha. Akshay follows the news avidly and keeps himself up to date with politics.

He mostly knows Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi but makes sure he has a lookout on what's happening around him. Every time he has to cast his vote, he is excited and thrilled. I talk to him about different political parties and their agenda. That way, he knows most of our leaders. -Pratibha Bhatnagar, Akshay's mother

Brian’s mother Anita says he would even make posters of posters of political leaders at home. She was keen that his time, he exercise his role as a responsible citizen but there were some hitches.

“This year, we wanted him to exercise his right by casting the vote and took a voter ID for Brian and prepared him well", says Anita. "But when they went to the polling booth, Brian's name was not the list. "We had to call a few disability rights activists who made things easier for us. Once we went back, his name was listed and he could cast his vote. He was familiar with the name of one of the candidates who attends many functions for people with autism. I was allowed to assist him to the polling machine as well”, she adds.

But not everyone was as lucky. Some people with autism were turned away as polling officers were unaware of the rights of people with disabilities. Like Marwan Munavvar. This 19-year-old from Kasargod, Kerala, was initially turned away and his father Munavvar Shuaib had to cross many hurdles before his son finally managed to cast his vote.

“Initially, polling booth officials were not supportive. In fact, they did not agree Marwan to cast his vote", says Munavvar. "Then I had to talk to them about disability rights. They later contacted an agency who gave the go ahead. Once he casted his vote, the presiding officer came and congratulated him", says the proud dad.

Yash, 20, from Taliparamba in Kannur, was among the first time voters and is still quite filled with excitement says father Premarajan.

“Initially, he did not know what voting was all about. But we made him aware of it. Polling booth officials were friendly and overall, it was a great experience”, says Premarajan.

These youngsters got to exercise their rights and became responsible citizens. More importantly, they showed the world that they have a point of view and can make decisions about their political future.

Source: www.newzhook.com

  May 26, 2019

#BeingMom - Pratibha Bhatnagar shows us why mothers are such champions

As our month-long #BeingMom winds up to a close, we bring you the story of Pratibha, mother to Akshay Bhatnagar, a national award winner, sportsman and dancer.

Like any young couple, Pratibha and Navneet Bhatnagar were enjoying the early stages of their child Akshay’s growth, celebrating every milestone.

When they noticed what seemed to be slightly worrying behaviour patterns, they took Akshay to the best doctor in their city, Jaipur. The doctor said all was well and for a few years, Pratibha took comfort in that. Then some time later, when she realised Akshay was unresponsive to things around him, but could hear clearly, she went to a therapist, who diagnosed him with autism.

At the time of Akshay’s birth in 1992, awareness was little and this was the first time Pratibha had heard the word autism. The therapist gave her a booklet on autism.

I read the booklet in tears. Akshay showed all the symptoms of autism mentioned in it and I was shocked and disheartened. I cannot forget that day. Not just me, but my husband was also shattered. But we did not allow that to break our spirits. We were thinking of what can be done for Akshay to provide him with a good quality life. - Pratibha Bhatnagar

Pratibha’s immediate family was supportive. Her father-in-law, who is a doctor, knew of the right techniques to help Akshay but the larger family would mock and laugh at her son. Those days were hard especially when she saw Akshay recat with anger and irritation to those slights.

Akshay underwent therapy for three years accompanied by Pratibha. Those sessions helped Akshay of course and Pratibha even more. She realised how she could reach out and help her son.

“Parents must learn how to interact with a child with a developmental disorder. Only then can the child be empowered”, says Pratibha. That knowledge helped enhance their communication and bonding. “Once I knew what Akshay wanted, things started to change gradually for the better. I was patient and stood by Akshay which helped in his growth”, says Pratibha.

Life of achievement:

Akshay completed his schooling to pursue a degree in sociology, political science and public administration, and was awarded the second highest academic excellence award for his remarkable performance. He was also the first person with autism in Rajasthan to complete his graduation.

In 2017, the Rajasthan government honoured him with the Incredible Achievers’ Award and the next year he won a national award for being a Role Model for people with disabilities. Currently Akshay works with a top firm in Jaipur. In this journey, mother Pratibha has stood by his side, supporting his likes and interests.

It came at some personal sacrifice. Pratibha quit her job as a government officer to be an anchor for Akshay. Her elder daughter too was there to support him.

Now that Akshay has become independent, Pratibha has decided to pursue her passion. She has done a diploma in special education for intellectual disabilities and a Masters in psychological counselling. In this new role, she reaches out to many children with disabilities and their families as well.

In her new role, Pratibha has been a game changer as well. Until a few years back, people with autism were given a certification in Down syndrome by the government. Now, thanks to her persistent efforts, they are given exclusive certificates.

Pratibha believes that every parent with a child on the autism spectrum must have a detailed plan on how to empower their child. “Patience and consistency is the key. Earlier, there was no awareness about autism but things have changed now. So parents have more resources so they must use it to the fullest”.

Husband Navneet says he admires his wife’s attitude and tried his best to offer support.

“We met many doctors who said that autism is not curable, but manageable. Pratibha decided to quit her job to be with Akshay. As a father and husband, I have always tried to be around. After all, a child is precious to the parent regardless of whether they have a disability or not”, says Navneet.

Source: www.newzhook.com

  May 25, 2019

When a boy with Down syndrome became the sub-inspector of Chennai

Nineteen-year-old Stevin Mathew grew up chanting "I am police" like a mantra, partially influenced by the films he watched. For a boy with Down syndrome, that can never happen, but his parents decided to make his dream come true for a day. 

Though originally from Chennai, the family is now settled in Qatar. On their trip to Chennai a few days ago, Stevin’s father Rajeev Thomas approached the Chennai police commissioner with the request of making his son wear khaki for a day. According to The Hindu, Rajeev said, 

"He was fascinated by the police after watching his favourite stars Suresh Gopi, Vijay, and others. He always wanted to become a police officer. So I decided to write a mail to the commissioner when we came to Chennai for a vacation. They took his measurements and even got a police uniform with two stars stitched for him.”

Paying heed to the strange request, Chennai's Assistant Commissioner Vincent Jayaraj and Inspector Suryalingam visited Stevin the day before to prepare him for his special day and made the necessary arrangements.

Upon reaching the station in his uniform he was welcomed with bouquets. He was also given a desk and walkie-talkie which were his for the day. 

Once he was informed about the basic work involved in being a police officer and crime prevention, he accompanied two constables on patrol duty in the police Jeep. 

Stevin studies at a school for special children run by his parents. Talking about dealing with special children, in an interview with Deccan Chronicle his father said,

“It is pertinent to parents who have special children and the society to know that children with disabilities have to be given an opportunity for them to achieve.” 

 

  May 25, 2019
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