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AUTISM SOCIETY OF GREATER ORLANDO

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Autism, Disabilities, Family Services, Health, Human Services

Mission: The mission or goal of the ASGO is that all individuals within the autism spectrum will be provided a lifetime network of opportunities to become fully accepted, included, and actively participating members of our community, through family support, education, and advocacy, and public awareness.

Target demographics: children and adults with autism and their families

Direct beneficiaries per year: more than 3,000 families living with autism in the Central Florida Area. We provided over 100 children and adults with autism opporutnities to go out in the community in a safe and supported way.

Geographic areas served: Orlando, FL

Programs: social skills groups, community awareness events, autism awareness training, autism awareness events, etc.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

jjanacone

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

EDFN 506
John Janacone
10/13/17
Paper on Professional Self
My Role as an Effective Student Resource Officer and Educator
Commitment to Continuing Education

My current goal in life is commitment to a goal towards excellence in law enforcement and education. I am writing this paper with a goal in mind to continually learning, enabling me to be at the top in my career. If you would have told me years ago I would be in law enforcement, let alone the teaching field, I would have laughed in your face. Most of my family, including father, brother, aunts, uncles and cousins are teachers, from the collegiate level to elementary and high school. California was where my mind was. I was going to be an actor and producer. The only problem was I suffered from severe anxiety, which prevented me from traveling far distances, so not a good idea to go 2400 miles to the west coast. I had worked on over dozens of film and television productions in the tri state area, and ironically, I played a cop in a lot of them. I would always flash my fake badge around for fun with friends. My father, who was also my manager, would say, “You carry that badge around like a bible, if it means that much to you, why don’t you just go to the police academy and become a real officer”, and so the journey began, thanks dad, your always right.
It wasn’t easy, besides trying to find work acting and producing, and dealing with anxiety, I struggled for years to maintain stable employment; I can tell you I had over 40 different jobs in my life at each job, I had to learn to adjust to work environments, causing severe anxiety attacks. When things became difficult, I would just the work, I didn’t care if I had another job to start.
In the fall of 2005, I entered the Youngstown State University Police Academy. It was a six month course and my only issue through the academy was showing up on time. I am famously known for being chronically late for everything I do, which to me was no big deal. The academy was a great experience and after perseverance, I graduated in 2006 and much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, I followed through on something. After graduation, I was commissioned to the Mahoning County Ohio Sheriff’s Department, where I was assigned to the jail division. Still suffering from anxiety, I decided the detail wasn’t for me; close quarters are not cool, so I was sent to the records division dealing with the public. Since the position was part time, I had to continue looking for more work, and the anxiety wasn’t improving to where, Nancy, my better half, who I have been with for over 12 years, suggested I see a counselor, so I heeded her advice and made an appointment with a counselor.
Upon meeting with a counselor, taking some tests, including a DNA test, it was concluded I had Adult Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, something I knew nothing about. At least now I knew what has been going on all these years, going from job to job, driving Nancy crazy, it was a relief to know I have an answer. Nancy was relieved about the diagnosis, now knowing how to deal with the disorder. We spent hours at the library learning everything about Asperger’s Syndrome. I also learned a lot about the American Disabilities Act and its different titles, which gave me a new perspective in people with disabilities, resulting in my employment as a school resource officer for a school for autism.
Before I became a teacher and school resource officer, my last employment was in an aluminum factory where I worked on the press line moving aluminum products. The employer, whom the ADA recognized as a person or persons who hire prospective individuals to be paid for performing labor services for their company, hired me, the employee, who explained to the employer I had a disability known as Asperger’s and explained the medication I was taking and saw a counselor. I also stated I had a working resume which reflected I had previous experience working in an aluminum factory, so apart from having a disability; I was also qualified to perform the work. After reviewing my application, the employer hired me for the position.
I worked there for six months. The company had to make special accommodations for me, such as my clumsiness, having Asperger’s you are prone to be clumsy, not a good thing to be in a factory working with hot metals, it is a liability. So I was placed in a safer department, such as inventory, where my computer skills were valued, and no one else liked computers. Also, aspies, as they are called, are said to be very organized. The company could also get tax incentives for employing someone with a disability, so the company benefitted from my disability. The shop has since closed, but it helped me learn new skills and know what my limitations were. I also learned social cues and became more aware in a factory environment. So the ADA enabled me to become a productive worker despite having disabilities.
I also learned about Titles of the ADA, which state prohibiting discrimination against employment in divisions of state and local government. Besides teaching at a school for autism, I am also a deputy sheriff for the State of Ohio in Trumbull County. When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago, I thought I couldn’t be in law enforcement anymore, being clumsy, not recognizing social cues, could be detrimental in a stressful police situation, over talking when not appropriate and being able to focus would be challenging working for the government with strict policies and guidelines.
Thanks to the ADA, diagnosis does not mean disability, so just because some people have certain limitations; they might have specific skills or experience that would prove valuable in a certain job description where as a person without a disability might not be able to perform. There is a position for everyone in the market. Again I knew what my limitations were so there were accommodations made so I could serve effectively in law enforcement. I am no good at patrol. I have, however, excellent people and computer skills which enable me to work in the court house on the computer and deal with the public entering the courthouse directing them to where public services are located and where the courts are having trials.
I completed the Crisis Intervention Team Program in August 2106, continuing my education where we are trained to handle situations involving people with special needs, people with addiction problems and people with mental illness. Medical health professionals, law enforcement agencies and community wellness centers are collaborating on how to handle and deal with individuals who are in critical situations and try to get them to a safe environment and seek treatment. I learned there are public services trying to educate and inform people about discrimination by offering resource material at local libraries, universities and different grants available at government agencies.
This leads me to my current and most stable position, working as a student resource officer for Hope Academy for Autism in Youngstown, Ohio. I have been with the academy for 2 years. I started as a teacher’s assistant, working with mild to moderate students with autism and behavior issues. Since I have Asperger’s, I am able to related to the students and serve as a role model. They are encouraged by what I have accomplished, and it gives them hope with their lives. This past May, my administrator approached me about becoming a student resource officer for the 20017-18 school year. She noted the students respected me and since I was already an officer it would be good for the school. I was honored with her offer, so this past August, I attended the Student Resource Officers Academy in Columbus, Ohio, again continuing my education.
Today I fun working as a school resource officer, helping the students with their troubles, serving sometimes as a counselor and teaching them about the law. I keep the school safe and try to prevent fights from starting. Every day is different and the staff at Hope Academy is awesome, each person bringing a talent to the table.
I am also currently taking classes to complete my Master’s Degree in Special Education, enabling me to once again continue with my education, keeping me on top of my career, allowing me the best I can be in my profession.

References:
Asperger’s Syndrome was first diagnosis by Hans Asperger in the 1940s. It is considered part of the Autism Spectrum and was officially acknowledged in 1994. Taken from internet source: autism citizen www.autismcitizen.org 2017

The American’s Disability Act. ADA. It Became law in 1990. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Taken from internet source: ada National Network www.adata.org 2017

Photos


My father Ben Janacone I passed the academy.

Instructors at the academy Hope Academy for Autism




Our School



Meeting the higher authority Hope Academy


4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

They offer no scholarships for poor people with autism. Therefore, poor autistic people are excluded from all of their events. My child and I was excluded from their annual walk since we could not pay their registration fee. I asked ASGO for a scholarship and they said they offered none. It would have cost ASGO nothing to let us participate in their walk. Even autism speaks (another horrible autism charity which gave 6 million to its ceo one year), allows people to participate in their walks for free. About 80% of Asgo's earnings in 2014 went to salary and overhead. This is pathetic and they should lose their ability to be a charity.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been able to observe and assist ASGO periodically for over 8 years and the number of support and learning opportunities, as well as targeted socialization activities scheduled per month per age group has been phenomenal. The effort that this Board puts forth for members is invaluable. The care and compassion runs deep. Now Donna Lorman has created a complete curriculum to teach law enforcement officers and first responders how to approach and manage situations involving developmentally disabled children and adults. This is a curriculum developed over many years and is interactive with the disabled and attendees. Great job ASGO!

Review from Guidestar