Community School Now Enrolling for the 2024-25 Year »

Close this search box.

Bodie Bernosky

What does Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month mean to you?

Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month represents an opportunity to celebrate autism, individuals on the spectrum, and all the contributions made to society. We are a part of the change we want to see in the world. Because what would the world be without us?

What message would you like to share with parents, families, and allies of autistic individuals?

My message to families, parents, and allies of autistic individuals is this: Don’t let fear or preconceived beliefs about autism separate you from the opportunity to live, laugh, and love an individual on the spectrum. Cherish the way they see the world. To our allies, keep doing what you love to do and be honest, loyal, and respectful to your friend with autism. Never forget to empathize with them, and be willing to listen to them when they need to be open with you about how they’re feeling. Listening is important.

What have you discovered about yourself through your journey with autism?

I have discovered that the way I see the world is a gift. As a traveler, I find joy in aspects often ignored by neurotypical travelers. It’s like the welcome sign that welcomes you to a new state on a road trip! Most people drive by those special signs without a second thought. I make a concerted effort to see that sign because it’s a symbol of personal achievement. A milestone marker that I made it to a new state, someplace further than I ever thought possible.

As a member of SARRC’s SAAB, what initiative or personal goal is most important to you?

As a former Community School student, I care about the program’s continued success, because I understand first-hand the positive impact it has on children in the community. That’s why I’m so proud of its continued success and the positive outcomes that have come from SARRC continuing its efforts to expand its reach across the state. 

How can others promote acceptance and awareness of autism throughout the year, beyond April?

I love seeing schools go above and beyond during April to celebrate and teach about autism awareness and acceptance! These initiatives are actively creating positive change in the autism community.

Building on this momentum, I’d love to see Valley schools implement a peer buddy system. The program would pair typically developing students with autistic students, similar to SARRC’s Community School program. The goal would be to foster long-lasting friendships and create genuine connections between students with and without autism. This can be incredibly beneficial, promoting social interaction, understanding and acceptance.

To ensure its success, schools could consider providing training for typically developing students and autistic students. This training could focus on communication strategies, understanding sensory sensitivities and building strong friendships.