Here’s The Good News: A Roundup of 5 Positive Stories about People with Autism Today

June 5, 2020

With the outbreak of Covid-19, families around the globe have been dealing with several stressors at once: unemployment, sickness, school closures, and distance learning just to name a few. It's a lot for any family to deal with, especially for families with children with special needs. In times of great stress, I prefer to focus my energy on what people are doing right, rather than what is going wrong. Here’s a roundup of 5 positive stories about people with autism.

Valerie Levine

AnswersNow BCBA

With the outbreak of Covid-19, families around the globe have been dealing with several stressors at once: unemployment, sickness, school closures, and distance learning just to name a few. It's a lot for any family to deal with, especially for families with children with special needs. In times of great stress, I prefer to focus my energy on what people are doing right, rather than what is going wrong. Here’s a roundup of 5 positive stories about people with autism.

Thirteen-year old Rylan Vogelzang from Michigan co-wrote and published a book with his mother about what life is like with Autism and Tourette’s syndrome. Their book, If I Squeeze Your Head I’m Sorry, hopes to educate others about his feelings and experiences in certain situations. This uplifting book will help the reader understand how he processes internal and external information, giving the reader a peek inside his brain and how it works. The book provides beautiful, detailed pictures that illustrate how he feels when he is bullied, how he feels when he walks into a loud room, and how he shows affection. Given that people with autism sometimes have difficulty verbalizing their feelings, Rylan was able to communicate his thoughts through this book; providing an insightful look into how he interprets the outside world. Their book is available to purchase on Amazon


A 26-year old man from New Jersey on the autism spectrum continues to work his job in the bakery department of a local supermarket. Despite the warnings of the current pandemic, Anthony Russo remains committed to his job. Even though his employer gave him the option of staying home without fear of losing his job, he would rather work. “I have a responsibility,” Anthony says, “I bake cookies. Cookies make people happy, and these are hard times, and I want to bake my cookies.” His bravery is to be admired! Not all heroes wear capes, some wear aprons. Thank you for making those delicious cookies and for reminding everyone of the sweet things in life. 


A 28-year old man in El Paso, Texas is a very active member of his community. Ethan Teicher was diagnosed with autism when he was 4 years old. He also has a hearing and speech impediment. These different abilities have only motivated him to accomplish more. Ethan graduated high school in 2009 and graduated last year with an undergraduate college degree in applied science at El Paso Community College. He is currently working 3 days a week at a local grocery store, a job he has held for the past 10 years! He is a volunteer teacher at a local school, where he works with children that face similar challenges. His responsibilities as a volunteer teacher include, “helping the teachers and children as much as possible,” adding “it’s an opportunity to serve as a role model and show the students that anything is possible if you work for it.” When Ethan was asked about how he is working through the Covid-19 pandemic at work at the grocery store, “It’s different now,” he said, “but I am trying my best.” He has one comment he’d like to share about people with autism, “Other people have to support people with autism because they are such huge difference makers no matter what. The important thing is to just be yourself and always work hard.” Thank you, Ethan, for your dedication to your community.


Riah Totten, an 8-year old girl with autism has discovered a new passion while in quarantine in Belfast, Ireland. When she couldn’t play soccer outside anymore, she turned to the kitchen to keep herself busy. With the help of her mother, Riah has baked several hundred scones for pensioners living in the south and east Belfast during the lockdown. She has baked plain, cherry, coconut, and fruit scones. She is also a member of a local autism support group. Riah initially made scones for the leader of the group, but soon made scones for everyone in the support group! She has made over 300 scones and is now officially obsessed. She now dreams of owning a bakery of her own. “It’s just taken off,” her mother says and adds, “Riah says Gordon Ramsay inspires her, and that she doesn’t need to go back to school because she wants to own a scone shop and work there all day.” It is clear this young baker has a huge heart for everyone in her community – and I have no doubt the scones were yummy! 


And lastly, my colleague and fellow behavior analyst Jenika Karnik was kind enough to share an amazing telehealth success story. She has a client that began toilet training during the Covid-19 pandemic. Jenika has been providing telehealth parent training services to this client one to two times per week. She shared a detailed document describing the toileting procedures with the family and has been virtually logging on to provide guidance in real-time, resulting in the client not having any accidents! Amazing! Even the smallest win can feel like a huge leap in the right direction. Congratulations to this little person, the parents, and the entire team!


I like to bring this quote from my yoga practice into my work, “Progress...not perfection.” Small steps taken every day can result in major accomplishments! I encourage you to find the small wins in your every day, especially during the current pandemic. If you find yourself struggling with your child, we at AnswersNow can help! Download the AnswersNow app to get yourself in touch with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.


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