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The few weeks in India have been a great learning experience. One of the biggest lessons I will take away from this experience is to try to be more comfortable with uncomfortable situations. In the future, I will put myself in more situations that are outside of my comfort zone.

Before ACE, I had worked with students and adults with various mental health diagnoses but never had worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I ultimately chose to work with Action for Autism (AFA) in India because I felt that organization would best fit my future plans. However, I was also hesitant because I knew it would already be hard to get to know and understand the schedule and behaviors of children with ASD, and I imagined the language barrier would make it even harder.

Looking back, I am so happy that I chose AFA because I learned so much from the teachers who work there. I was so humbled by the fact that all of the teachers who I spoke to loved what they were doing and were so patient with their students.

Looking back, I am so happy that I chose AFA because I learned so much from the teachers who work there. I was so humbled by the fact that all of the teachers who I spoke to loved what they were doing and were so patient with their students. Every child in the school was treated the same and was included in all activities – no matter their specific place on the autism spectrum. I was able to learn a huge amount because I had never been in a situation like this before. The language barrier that I had thought would be a challenge, turned out to be far less of a barrier. Many of the students were low-functioning and didn’t use much Hindi. As a result, I had to learn to use other forms of communication beside language to interact. This also was helpful when communicating with the children who were higher-functioning as well.

The teachers taught me not only tactical implementations, in a classroom setting for children with ASD, but also the importance of being truly invested in whatever it is that you are doing. I observed how their dedication and love for their work positively impacted the lives of the children and the community they served. Back in the United States, I will use what I learned in my future endeavors. I hope to use these lessons to benefit my team and school environment by being completely present and dedicated to what I am involved in and also by genuinely getting to know the people with whom I interact.

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