By Anne Buchko
Many are unaware of the importance of the month I’m writing this in — April. April was Autism Awareness Month, a time to promote acceptance of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a range of conditions that is distinguished by various symptoms, such as “difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.” (CDC)
I joined AUesome last year as I discovered my passion for creating change in different parts of my life, especially through the neurodiverse community. Led by Anshul Gupta, a high school senior, AUesome was founded in 2020 to make therapy more accessible for children with autism.
I took part in this initiative as I found that autism awareness was something that is in dire need in much of the world, especially in our own community.
Like Anshul and many other team members, building AUesome has been a personal journey for me. I found my passion to help spread change in this community through the time I spent in one of my home countries, Taiwan.
I spent a large part of my childhood in Taiwan with my family, and some of my cousins were on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately, there was a lack of awareness and a shortage of resources to help them from a young age. I love my cousins, and I believe that there should be no limit to assistance in order for them to receive care and reach their full potential. This belief pushed me to join and aid the development of AUesome.
Being able to identify as a changemaker is incredibly important for young people today. Many are faced with large-scale issues, be it climate change or social injustice. I call on other young people to look at their community, home, and even in their family.
To all future changemakers: don’t be afraid to dream big. If you see that there’s something you can fix in your community, stay strong. Even starting small can lead to something great. In fact, the biggest movements for change will always start small, and you might discover an idea for impact in your everyday life.
Be innovative, empower others, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks along the road. Recognize that your dream has merit and your ideas are important.
And finally, to all future changemakers, we hope that you recognize that while not many chances always arrive for people to create and spread change, you can find that opportunity, just as organizations like AUesome did.
— Anne Buchko
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This letter is the second in our “Yours Truly, Changemakers” series when youth innovators write a letter to their peers about why it’s important to lead change at a young age, reflect on the challenges they have overcome, and offer their words of wisdom on making a difference. You can read more articles in the series as they come out here.