Straight from the Source – Jacob Winkelman: Using New Opportunities to Learn About Ones’ Interests

Jacob Winkelman is your average fun-loving, sports-obsessed 21-year-old. When he is not attending school at the Monarch Center for Autism or interning here at Milestones, you may find him playing video games, following his favorite local sports team, the Cleveland Indians, or planning for his next cosplay event, a hobby that has brought him a new sense of community and belonging.

“My sister and I went to our first convention together and I met amazing people. I felt like ‘this is something I can do,'” Jacob says. “It’s amazing to know I can have autism and still feel at home.”

That first experience has now sparked a colorful and creative hobby for Jacob where he enjoys trying new costumes and meeting new people in the industry. One of Jacob’s biggest highlights so far since starting cosplay has been meeting Steve Blum of Wolverine and Cowboy Bebop fame, who was excited to talk to Jacob when he mentioned that he had autism.

“To hear Steve Blum say that autism is awesome… that makes you feel good.”

Next year, Jacob will be graduating. In preparation for this new chapter, Monarch and Milestones partnered to create an internship at Milestones to support him in pursuing goals such as mastering Excel, learning more about Photoshop and developing other office skills.
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Ask the Expert – Doug Blecher: How to Create a Clear Path to Your Goals

It’s a new year which causes so many of us to pause for a moment or two to reflect on what we want in our lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach teens and adults with autism as well as family members in achieving goals they have set out for themselves. I wanted to give a few observations of what has been helpful for those that were able to move in a positive direction to reach their goals.

Reduce your anxiety. I often see people afraid to take action on their goals because they are simply just overwhelmed by the process. Sometimes there are sensory processing issues that get in the way. Then there are executive functioning challenges that stop others from taking action. Other times, not knowing the expectations is a big hindrance for moving towards one’s goals. A good starting point in reducing these concerns is identifying someone you know and trust and then having a conversation with that person to develop a plan that may reduce your anxiety. It is also okay to allow yourself to take a break on a project – sometimes anxiety comes from feeling the pressure to execute a plan perfectly and at a pace you may not be comfortable with at the present time.
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Helpdesk – Tracking Your Goals in 2019

Setting goals for the New Year is often much easier than sticking to them! The Milestones Helpdesk staff wants to provide you with a couple of tools you may use to track and reach the goals you have set. Whether you are a self-advocate working on your executive functioning skills, a family juggling a busy schedule, or a professional managing multiple responsibilities at the same time, we have some practical suggestions that may suit your needs!

For Families
Microsoft Word has templates for just about everything you could want, including goal-tracking. See how Milestones Program Director Beth Thompson customized this template for tracking daily chores on a checklist for monitoring a child’s morning routine. If your family goal is to get your child to complete activities more independently, use these customizable forms to create a document specific to your goals.

For Self-Advocates
Electronic calendars and reminder systems – Many self-advocates have great success with using electronic calendars and reminders to keep them on track. For example, one Milestones self-advocate recently reported he doesn’t take appointment reminder cards anymore but instead asks his providers to send him calendar invites so he is automatically reminded of his upcoming appointments. Consider setting up your reminder notifications to start one week out from your event or appointment, and then schedule for them to remind you more frequently as you approach the date – for example: one day until the event, one hour, then a 15-minute reminder.
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My Milestones – Irene Jones, Josiah’s House

Irene Jones is an incredible example of a local parent who turned a personal passion into a service for her community.

“I am the type of person who loves a challenge. When someone says to me that it can’t be done, I am determined to make it happen.”

In 2008, Jones created a supportive, productive space for individuals like her son Josiah.

“My son Josiah is the reason Josiah’s House came about – he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he is now 30 years young. He is my drive, my inspiration in moving forward with the vision.”

After his diagnosis, Jones found the existing network of resources to not be as beneficial to her family as she hoped. This sprung her into action; it wasn’t long until Jones decided to quit her job as an RTA bus driver so she could discharge her son from his group home and dedicate her time to providing the developmental care he needed. While learning how to take care of her son, Jones immersed herself in learning about treatment and the needs of the autism community at large. She earned her certification from the Ohio Dept. of Developmental Disabilities and began to build what is now known as Josiah’s House.
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Helpdesk: Visual Dinner Guides for the Holiday Season






Could your child or loved one use some extra visual support at the dinner table this holiday season?

Check out these holiday placemats from Milestones that can be used to simplify communication during special occasions with family and friends. Visual supports such as this can be used in various settings to support nonverbal or shy individuals on the spectrum as they communicate and express their needs in new or familiar settings.

Simply download your favorite here, print it, and place it on the table to use as a convenient visual guide!

Looking for a specific resource for a loved one or client this holiday season? Call the Milestones free autism Helpdesk at 216.464.7600 ext. 200 for individualized resources and guidance.
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