How I Feel About the Holidays

By Guest Blogger Chloe Rothschild

Chloe is 19-years old and is on the autism spectrum.  Chloe’s blog “Oh, The Places You’ll Go: Finding My Way With Autism!” utilizes her writing talent to teach others about autism.

I love the winter season, because I love the joy that it brings, with all of the winter holidays right around the corner. But while I truly enjoy the holiday season, it can be stressful for me as well. Especially because of the fact, that I have PDD-NOS which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Even though I enjoy the holidays, I find it to be difficult at times as well.
Unlike the majority of society, I do not celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Hanukkah. Hanukkah last for eight nights and usually falls before Christmas. Sometimes, I wish that I would celebrate Christmas, just because I hear many people around me talk about Christmas, Christmas trees and stockings etc. I have never had any of those things, because the traditions and customs for Hanukkah are different than the traditions and customs for Christmas.

Parts of the Season I enjoy:
I enjoy opening presents, and buying and giving presents to others. I enjoy giving presents to others, just as much as I do receiving presents. I have a great time picking out gifts for my family and friends. This year, in addition to picking out gifts for my family and close friends, I decided to make holiday cards for my friends. I had so much fun doing this, I let my creativity run wild, and the cards looked great. I hope that my friends have as much fun receiving the cards as I did making them.  This year, my mom and I made snowman cut out cookies. We had not made cut out cookies in years. I had so much fun with this activity. Most of all, I loved spending the time with my mom doing something that we both found to be fun. I enjoyed cutting out the cookies. Then I really enjoyed and had a great amount of fun decorating the cookies.

Parts of the Holiday Season That Are Harder For Me:
One of the hardest things for me this time of year is waiting to open my presents. This is mostly because I do not like surprises. I want to know what I am getting. But even if I give my parents a list, and they buy me what is on my list, along with some surprises, I tend to still sometimes get overwhelmed and upset. Also, the anticipation of waiting to open gifts is very hard for me, even if I know what I am getting.

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season!

Chloe Rothschild and Dr. Stephen Shore Discussion on YouTube

Living with Autism and Finding Hope on the Football Field: Anthony Starego

How did an orphan with autism, who was once labeled “unadoptable,” find himself on NBC’s TODAY Show and ESPN’s College Game Day program and the sports section of USA TODAY a few weeks ago?

The short answer is a family and community who believed he was capable.

By the time Ray and Reylene Starego took him for their own when he was three years old, Anthony Starego had lived in a revolving door of 11 different foster homes.

Since that time, these passionate football fans have raised a son who is now an 18 year old high school football kicker. They shared their love, tradition and rituals of Rutgers University football with Anthony from a young age, who embraced it with intense enthusiasm. Through this shared passion, they have provided him with a way to tap into his unique talents, allowing him to reach a place where he could leverage his strengths and have success, despite significant developmental challenges.

This young man’s story is about a dream. It is about overcoming odds and assumptions and exceeding expectations. In 2006, at the age of 12, Anthony was inspired by a Rutgers player, Jeremy Ito, who kicked a game-winning field goal against University of Louisville. Witnessing that exciting moment made such an impression on him that he informed his father that he wanted to be a kicker.

Considering the multi-sensory issues that Anthony lives with, Ray hesitantly cautioned his son that football is a sport where the close physical contact that made him uncomfortable is unavoidable. Anthony was not swayed.

He began practicing. And as it turns out, Anthony’s need for routine, rituals and repetition in his life – all characteristics of autism lent themselves very well to the job of a football kicker – whose success is dependent on the ability to perform consistently over and over without getting distracted by high emotions.

In October, practice paid off when Anthony was called to the field for his team, Brick Township High School, with 21 seconds left in the game. He kicked a game-tying field goal against football powerhouse Toms River North. It was the first field goal of his varsity career.

Now, his parents aren’t ruling anything out.

Learn more about this inspiring young man by watching this very moving video tribute produced by ESPN.  Kick of Hope

Anthony and his family are featured on the TODAY Show.

High School Kicker with Autism Makes Winning Play

How One Kick Changed a Rutgers Fan’s Life