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Adjusting to life changes for people with disabilities

December 14, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

Life is full of changes, some of these changes are easy to adjust to while others are more challenging. While growing up, I became isolated and withdrawn whenever I had to change much or when change was expected of me. I hated to admit it at the time but the reality was that I hated change and changes happening around me. This became a problem whenever I was expected to do any of my responsibilities and I really disliked it. As a result, my self-esteem suffered and I would throw tantrums and become irate when things did not go the way that I wanted them to go. However, some changes were not all that bad. These changes have made me the person and individual that I am today strong and willful, but cautious about what lays ahead in my future. These changes have also made aware of a future which I now know is promising and fulfilling and is somewhat predictable.

Here are some tips on how I have dealt with changes. Being prepared is one way that can help while adjusting to change. This can be done by making a schedule and sticking with it. Learning how to be flexible by keeping an open mind can also help while adjusting to change. Communicating by expressing ideas, wants, and desires freely. Learning how to do activities that you enjoy, listen to music do art projects this, and spend time with friends. This helps by dealing with stress and can help clear your mind. Finally, allowing others to help by asking for feedback and support can be helpful by allowing you to see things from another point of view and perspective. Give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself on the work that you have done. This will emphasize your efforts and make you aware of them.

 

 

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Danielle Lazzara serves as a Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department and as an instructor in the Self-Advocacy Training Program funded by the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (LIUU Fund) of the Long Island Community Foundation. Danielle is a self-advocate and presents regularly at local and regional workshops and conferences on the topic of self-advocacy. She has been a member of QSAC’s Development Department since 2013 and writes regularly for onQ, QSAC’s blog.

Strategies for Managing and Communicating Emotions

September 21, 2015 3:00 pm Published by
  1. Handling stress
  2. Using time effectively
  3. Saying what you feel
  4. Dealing with change
  5. Understanding the point of view of others
  6. Taking risks and knowing when to take them

The emotional challenges above are just some of thencountered in our day to day routines.

One of the ways to consider handling and being under stress is to stay in the moment. The way we are involved in handling it is part of the solution, and remaining present is part of handling this challenge.

Sometimes just being in the moment and looking at the big picture is the best remedy.

Personally, I feel that when I am prepared for a situation I am can put my best foot forward. This is so important and helps me be clear about what my needs and wants are. These are all tied and linked to communication.

Language is not the only way that one can express themselves.

One of the ways life is challenging is the way that we become involved in dealing with and handling changes in everyday routines. These challenges are impacted by the way we react to them emotionally.

And then the most challenging aspect of these ways to handling everything is by being clear and getting an understanding of the other person’s point of view.

This involves not only being in touch with how you feel but also being considerate and being in tune with the other person’s thoughts, feelings, wants, and desires

Finally, I am going to talk about challenges and taking risks.

I personally believe that only risks that are important are the ones that we don’t know that we can take. Taking small steps towards our goals in communication and  becoming in tune with what we want are the best ways to understand ourselves and the environment around us.

 

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Danielle Lazzara serves as a Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department and as an instructor in the Self-Advocacy Training Program funded by the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (LIUU Fund) of the Long Island Community Foundation. Danielle is a self-advocate and presents regularly at local and regional workshops and conferences on the topic of self-advocacy. She has been a member of QSAC’s Development Department since 2013 and writes regularly for onQ, QSAC’s blog.

 

My Job as the Self-Advocate Liaison

August 3, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

This past year has been a challenging one as much as a rewarding one. When I first started working for QSAC, I did not realize the impact I would have as a self-advocate and mentor to young adults with disabilities, but as time went on, myself and others have come to understand this more and more.

Danielle Lazzara (center) pictured with other members of QSAC’s Development Department: Michelle Debisette (left) and Joseph Amodeo (right)

I realized that this learning experience was just as new to me as the individuals I was mentoring. The way I learned in this endeavor was through respect and willingness to grasp information from others, a s well as being open to replicate in return.

Advocating is a skill that has ignited the fuel of my mind, bringing out my passion and opening my heart. I learned this when I realized my true potential for this task. I’ve shared my story at numerous presentations, hoping that it influences others in my position to be greater and become better advocates. During this process, I have learned that change is a natural part of life. What would have been acquaintances have become friends and unfamiliar strangers have common bonds.

Learning my skills have made an impact on me from being a volunteer to better worker. Having rights and understanding the power of them is truly necessary such as: being aware of having choices, getting involved in healthy relationships, working and/or volunteering, having free speech, and owning up to our responsibilities. This is supported by our amendments in the Bill of Rights.

Being safe in this community is a big right for everyone. One way that I learned how to be safe in a community is by having support staff, helping me get familiar with the community and feel safer. Knowing this, I have advocated my experience in hopes that others will follow my example to feel safer in the community.

I have also attended many workshops and volunteered for many organizations such as Americore and O.P.W.D.D. I do this continuously and in my spare time to set an example for others like myself. My most valuable experience has been these connections that have brought out my true voice, and these impacts on others and those around me. I hope to continue to be a voice for many others, and I hope to help them create their own voice.

 

Danielle Lazzara serves as a Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department and as an instructor in the Self-Advocacy Training Program funded by the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (LIUU Fund) of the Long Island Community Foundation. Danielle is a self-advocate and presents regularly at local and regional workshops and conferences on the topic of self-advocacy. She has been a member of QSAC’s Development Department since 2013 and writes regularly for onQ, QSAC’s blog.

 

 

 

EFFECTIVELY GETTING YOUR POINT ACROSS

September 24, 2014 2:16 pm Published by

When I was younger I would throw temper tantrums and rebel when things would not go my way. I also had a number of anxieties and overcoming them was difficult for me. These were some of the ways I communicated to people as well my peers. Whenever I felt a certain emotion I had a challenging time expressing them, because of those things I was envious of my peers.

Often if I contacted someone and they would not return my call I would worry excessively and contact them over and over until I would hear back from them. Also when I would do something wrong by acting impulsively I would lie or mislead people to try to get myself out of trouble. At this stage in my life I need prompting to remember to do things. Routines have become very important for me.

Having mentors and other peers in my life that set great examples have been beneficial to my growth. If I could advise anyone, I would say to effectively communicate with people,  learning self-awareness is key.  Self awareness is important for setting boundaries and making your needs known.  Setting boundaries also allowed me to see that I needed patience in all situations.

 

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Danielle Lazzara
 serves as the Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department. In her role, she makes calls to parents and supporters about upcoming QSAC events. In addition, Ms. Lazzara works closely with QSAC’s special events team on soliciting items for our annual silent auction. As a woman on the autism spectrum, she is an active self-advocate for the autism community having presented at an array of community-based events including QSAC’s Bridges to Transition on April 2, 2014.

DEALING WITH SENSORY OVERLOAD AND STRESS

May 5, 2014 10:59 am Published by
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Danielle LazzaraWhen I was younger all of my behaviors were due to the stress around me. Today when I don’t manage things effectively I become stressed out and confused. My environment then becomes an issue which can be both good and bad. During those times it’s as if my mind goes blank and I have difficulty concentrating. This is why structure is an important factor in my life. I work best when my schedule is planned out and I manage to abide by it. Having a place to relax and just sit and think can be helpful. There are some things that I do that can relieve my stress and could help you relieve yours too.

Having a sense of humor is important because it enables one to laugh at things instead of being sad about them. Noticing your breathing is also quite important. Writing your feelings down can be a way to get things off of your chest instead of holding them inside. Listening to music allows you to escape from your reality. Getting your rest is essential. Taking breaks and naps can be a way for your body to relax.

Our seven senses and sensory overload

It is important to be aware of all of your senses.  It is also important to know when your senses are being overloaded and how this affects your body. We are all born with seven senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, balance ( vestibular), and body awareness (proprioception). People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be over-sensitive as well as under-sensitive in all of these areas. There are some ways that can really help an individual experiencing this. The three points to remember are :

1. be aware: look at the environment to see if it is creating difficulties for people with an ASD. Can you change anything?

2. be creative: think of some positive sensory experiences

3. be prepared: tell people with an ASD about possible sensory stimuli they may experience in different environments.

Researching is also important so that you can be aware of new treatments for sensory overload and stress. Watching videos on Youtube showcasing other people who also have ASD has been very helpful. It shows that you are not alone in your experiences and that if we share our experiences, we will be able to help each other more effectively.

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Danielle Lazzara
serves as the Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department. In her role, she makes calls to parents and supporters about upcoming QSAC events. In addition, Ms. Lazzara works closely with QSAC’s special events team on soliciting items for our annual silent auction. As a woman on the autism spectrum, she is an active self-advocate for the autism community having presented at an array of community-based events including QSAC’s Bridges to Transition on April 2, 2014.

A Self-Advocate’s Story

January 31, 2014 9:34 am Published by

Danielle LazzaraHello! My name is Danielle and I am an intern at QSAC’s headquarters in New York City in the Development Department. As a woman on the autism spectrum, I have overcome many things in my life and I am currently involved in getting a Consolidated Self-Directed Services plan through the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). When I first graduated from high school, the thought of living alone never crossed my mind. I was living with my family and longed for more independence, but knew I would need help and resources from others. On my own, I worked with lawyers and self-advocates to establish my Social Security and Medicaid eligibility and researched and selected an appropriate supportive living situation. I learned about my rights and responsibilities as a person with autism.

After many years of living arrangements that were not ideal for me, I finally found something that was almost perfect for me: my own apartment in a nice neighborhood working with staff I liked. I had independence and financial freedom. After a few years of inconsistent staff and some frustration, I have decided to pursue a Consolidated Self-Directed Services plan so I can have more say in my everyday life. With this new plan, I will have the freedom to select my own support staff and choose how I spend my time and money.

Twenty years ago, this type of decision would not have been possible because these types of independent living services did not exist. I am very grateful that I have this decision to make. People with disabilities have choices and can make their own decisions! Even the wrong ones! Find out what services are appropriate and available for you or your loved one, because everyone deserves a fair shot at a happy and fulfilling life.

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Danielle Lazzara is a lifelong New Yorker who is an actively involved self-advocate who works to ensure that individuals with disabilities know their rights and have access to supportive services. She is an intern in QSAC’s Development Department through the JobPath employment training program (ETP).

ABOUT US

QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.