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Autism Awareness: See the Able, Not the Label
I became interested in advocating for those with autism at a very early age. My brother, Matthew, was diagnosed with this developmental disorder when I was just five years old. As a sibling to someone with this condition, I found that there was very little information that helped me understand what was happening to my brother. In 2011, I developed a sibling support group to educate others and this became known as Hayley’s Heroes. This group allowed me to provide and share information, insight, and experiences with others. I was inspired to do more in support of Matthew after he was bullied numerous times at school. Shortly after the first bullying incident, I joined the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). During my membership, I was able to develop a project on autism and bullying and present it to countless students. I wanted others to understand autism and the effects of bullying. Through this project, Matthew and I developed a book titled, See the Able, Not the Label, which is available for families to check out at the Rubenstein Library at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Although I have spoken with numerous schools throughout the state and have donated my book in these classrooms, I will be able to expand the impact of my project to numerous schools as Miss Kentucky United States. The opportunity to share the story about accepting others and appreciating differences is an important story for young Kentuckians to learn and is a fundamental part of learning.