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Writing & Research: Aaron M. Weis

Generally speaking, for those families that find themselves part of the community that knows of someone with ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder and what was formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome, there are a few kinds of main outfits or organizations that most everyone knows of, in a matter of speaking. What typically comes up when this type of conversation sparks up is the likes of NAMI, or the National Alliance of Mental Illness and its overarching umbrella, Autism Speaks, although there have been some mixed feelings circulating pertaining to what was ostensibly their attempt to, ‘cure autism,’ to the point in which that they have removed the word from their website and mission statement to avoid any sense of ambiguities, in addition to Alta Sacramento Regional Center for those residing in California, as well as that of Centria Healthcare that has with it its own Autism branch for those affected by this neurological disorder.

Speaking directly to those parents that have either a young child, or perhaps even an adolescent youth that is on the spectrum, Centria Healthcare offers a truly remarkable event for this younger demographic that is by and large well-known throughout the nation to this specific coterie of individuals, and it is that of the Superhero Autism Activity Day.

Centria Healthcare launched this inclusive and collaborative service back in 2016 as a means to address some of the more social issues presented by Autism in creating for what is essentially a networking opportunity for friends and families members in this small community to have a safe space where they can band together for a day of a wide variety of enjoyable activities and learning opportunities, while also presenting them with a real chance to get out and socialize with other individuals that may have other similar likes and interests, such as their favorite superhero for one. In the same light, this event meets Centria Autism’s primary mission statement, which is that of, “helping every child living with autism to develop, pursue and achieve their own goals and dreams through high-quality ABA Therapy and support, as noted on their main website.

At the same time, those in attendance are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superheroes to which the full-gamut of every superhero you could imagine, ranging from the Flash all the way down to the likes of Batman, will be there engaging and interacting with those involved in the day’s activities as the name alludes to. In this way, Centria Healthcare does a truly remarkable job of creating for this sense that they are the stars or superheroes of the show, which they are.

And let’s face it, in a way those living on the spectrum are a sort of superhero in a way, as is demonstrated in the way they have these sorts of supernatural heightened senses which have always reminded me of Spiderman’s Spidey Senses or the Peter Tingle if you’ve seen the recent film.

Similarly, in many cases often then not, those with ASD have the most incredible capacity for imagination, that almost breaches on a photographic memory level. In the same way, their condition known as echolalia allows them to repeat and recite a vast repertoire of quotes, or in many cases acting as a sort of storage bank for some of the most profound or didactic information, with echolalia, of course, referring to what is perceived as a meaningless repetition of a person’s spoken words. Although it is typically viewed as symptomatic, or in a more negative light associated with the condition, I can personally attest as an individual with Asperger’s, that it can be leveraged as a kind of strength. In my academic endeavors, I personally utilized it as a means to memorize important passages that I was going to incorporate in order to substantiate my thesis, and in many other useful ways.

This year, the Superhero Autism Activity Day has already been held in cities all around the nation such as Albuquerque, Detroit, Houston, and many others, however, for those living in California, it is worth mentioning that this train is making its way towards the Golden State, with the event coming to Oakland, California on September 22nd, 2019 at the Oakland YMCA. Now, even though this is a free event, if you are interested, you should get there as soon as the event starts at 1:30 p.m. because space will be limited.

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