Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – How volunteering helped change me

Name: Samanta Orozco
From: Kent, Washington
Grade: 11th grade
School: kentridge high school
Votes: 0

I chose to help run a social group for kids with autism. I chose it
without knowing what I was getting myself into. My friend told me
that they desperately needed help, so I emailed them without
hesitation giving them my information. I had never worked with kids
with autism, so it was something completely new for me. I volunteered
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 ½ hours a week for 12 weeks. If I was
going to do it I had to really commit myself. Which is no problem to
me, its part of being an adult. Giving up certain things, like going
to practice that day or going late. But it was all worth it. My
duties at the social group was to take data on their behavior. For
example how long the student could keep a conversation going without
randomly changing topics. Or how long the individual could go with
keeping his hands to himself. Also help with running errands, making
copies, playing with them to keep them under control. Another thing I
did was while the teacher was giving the lesson help the kids do
their work, and help them complete their tasks. My biggest challenge
was having to see the kids have an outbreak. Another reason I chose
this volunteering opportunity was because I am really good with kids,
always have been. So when one day a kid had a really bad outbreak,
and flipped out on the teacher and the other students it was really
hard for me to see. But as one of the adults I had to keep my
composure, and distract the other kids from seeing that student. But
when that other student was finally able to settle down, he was able
to come back to the group and move on from what happened. And he was
able to come back because of the social skills we had been working on
for twelve weeks. That was one of my favorite things to see, that the
hard work we had all been doing was paying off, and I was able to see
it in action. It’s great that they are starting to learn at a young
age, it’s easier for children to change their way and adapt than
teenagers and adults. What I’ve taken away from volunteering at the
social group is that my problems compared to other people’s
problems are so small. There was a student that have had thirteen
surgeries in his eleven years of living. That kid is so strong, and
I’m just happy I got the chance to meet him and get to know him.
Most people I’ve talked to don’t really think much about autism,
and if they don’t know they’re quick to judge. Which is what I
hated the most. The kids in the group were all so smart, this one
student knew so much about video games, computer science and coding.
He would always come in and talk about how he was making a new video
game with lost of levels. So when I would see people treat them like
they were handicapped, it would annoy me very much. Overall I just
became way more educated on autism, and know that some people have it
worse. And what you think is a huge problem, is actually very
insignificant compared to real life problems. Every kid in the social
group changed my life for the better, because of them I’m going to
go back and volunteer more with kids with autism.

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