Adult with Autism Opens Legislative Day with Prayer
It started as most days do, with a car ride. Monika and I were in the back seat of a car making our way down I-65 with Joe driving us. I could tell she was nervous (who wouldn’t be!), especially on a special day like Alabama Autism Legislative Day. How many people get to give the opening prayer for the State Senate? When we arrived at The State House in Montgomery, thankfully, we did not have much time to wait. We were escorted through security and down to the Senate floor, where Monika was introduced by Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey.
Monika’s introduction noted that she had received services through Glenwood since the age of three. She is currently employed by Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church and also serves as a mentor for a younger group of scouts. I was particularly pleased that Monika’s memberships and contributions could be noted rather than her limitations, which is too often the case for people with developmental disabilities. After the introduction, I assisted Monika in using the IPad to say her prayer. This was to bring attention to the communication needs of many people with autism. This was Monika’s prayer …
“Heavenly Father, protect and guide us
Provide us your wisdom and compassion
Help us to recognize the needs
of those among us
Who lack a voice of their own
Give us the strength to provide a strong voice
For people of all ages and needs
So that we all might look to a better future
In Your Holy Name we pray
We were then escorted out of the chamber and had a round of pictures with Senator Cam Ward. As we were walking out of the Alabama State Capital, I saw Monika take a deep breath and visibly relax. The rest of the day was filled with Pizza and having fun with the others who came to take part in the exciting day. What an opportunity for Monika to express what she cannot say and what a terrific representative she was for others with ASD!
Written by Martha Loukotka, Director of Adult Day Habilitation Services
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