Coming out of hiding and being who you are is one of the central themes of Purim. Queen Esther originally did not share with her husband King Ahashverosh that she was Jewish out of fear for losing her life. However, when it became apparent that all of the Jewish people of Persia might perish under Haman’s harsh rule she summoned up her courage and pronounced her Judaism to the King. This took an amazing amount of bravery, which is also a main theme of Purim. Queen Esther indeed showed that one person could make a difference.
Each one of us can make a difference if we are just brave enough to come forth and share our own story. Part of my story is that we have a child with autism and that is a piece of who we are as a family. It would be easier not to say anything to acquaintances about our daughter, but then I would miss an opportunity to share our journey and possibly help someone else that might be in need of information or resources. Often times I feel vulnerable when sharing not knowing how others will react and if they will be supportive. I have met those who have not had direct experience or have known anyone with autism and sometimes their comments can be harsh, like Haman. However, I still try and muster my courage to help educate them and try not to take their comments to heart.
What is your own story that you can share to help make a difference in others lives? Maybe you have survived a life threatening illness and can be a comfort to others. Or maybe you have overcome another hardship in your life and you can share with others how to move on. It doesn’t have to be a major life event, but I encourage you to be brave enough to share your story and know that you can make a difference.
Advocacy For Autism hosts monthly support group meetings at Temple Beth Israel in Pomona. Our next meeting is on Monday, March 6 from 7-8:30 p.m. We will host Ms. Hilary Jacobs Trout who is a licensed educational psychologist with a master’s degree in counseling and Temple Beth Israel member. Ms. Jacobs Trout runs Jacobs’ Assessment Specialists in Claremont where she and her team specialize in helping parents who have students with learning challenges and/or autism.
Nicole Aptekar is a parent, advocate and founder of Advocacy For Autism and is a Group Facilitator for Autism Society of Inland Empire. She is active in her temple community, Temple Beth Israel Pomona, where she serves on the Board of Trustees as Treasurer. Nicole, her husband, Jeff, and their triplets live in Chino Hills, Calif. For a calendar of upcoming meetings and workshops, please visit www.advocacyforautism.com.