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June 2013



Jelani Davidson

Jelani Davidson


Drawing a Blank: Improving Comprehension for Readers on the Autism Spectrum

by Emily Iland, M.A.

Purchase Your Own Drawing a Blank

Drawing a Blank Book

"Although they may be fluent or even precocious readers, individuals with ASD often need additional support to understand what they read. Comprehension difficulties in readers with ASD can be subtle, qualitative and difficult to identify. as a result, their reading difficulties can be overlooked or unaddressed. This can directly affect the individual's ability to succeed in school, the workplace or college. Until now there has been very limited information and training on this topic available for parents, educators, and other professionals."

For More Information Contact:


The Special Needs Network
Autism Society of Los Angeles
ACT-Today Autism Care & Treatment
CARD Center for Autism & Related Disorders
Austim Speaks

YouTube I'm in College

Learn more about Special Needs College Programs
View this AMAZING clip:
"Look I'm in College"

Also check out:

     The College Internship Program

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Psalms 22:24 & 25

" ... He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor as He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him He heard. My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him."

Vana Thiero and Boys


The Samaritans House
Safe Passage Live




Hello Reader,

My prayers are that you are blessed BEYOND your personal desires. Amen! Good days have been followed by horrific days in our home. Resources are being accessed and alternative options are being researched. If it wasn't for the strength to bare and endure granted by the Lord my God, I'd have lost it. But you know, my faith gives me hope. I assist others listening in their time of need. Inspire even when life is dire! Remember always, we reap what we sow. Let's sow joy in spite of circumstantial afflictions. The grace of God helps us rise above, smiling in HIS joy! HALLELUJAH!!!

Their OWN Money!

Everybody knows that indescribable feeling of power, the pleasure of earning our own money. What a WOW moment. It's not just the money, well, it is the money actually. But it's more than the money. It's the appreciation for our service(s). It's the validation of our accomplishments. It's the confidence embodied in the achievement of the goals we set forth for ourselves.

I see my children's eyes light up on payday at our house. Bakary helps with the trash, laundry and dishes. Carter helps with cleaning, dishes and watching his brother from time to time. I give them set rates for the work they perform. For example laundry is a dollar to load the washer, a dollar to put clothes in the dryer, a dollar to bring it up and a dollar to put it away. I witness my sons' feeling of empowerment every time they pull out their wallets to purchase chips, cookies, pizza, fries, burgers, a movie ticket or skinny jeans.

Carter is the Fashion-neester! Once he learned to save, he started walking to Target and buying $5 and $7 T-shirts. He was buying every shirt he liked. They sat in the closet unworn for months! Eventually, I put my foot down and cut him off from buying cloths.

He had become a "Shop-a-holic." I have girlfriends who call it "Shopping Therapy." Either or, I went through great lengths to help him understand the difference between need and want. He got it, but it was harrrrrd for him to actually pick up a shirt, look at it, like it, put it down and walk away ;-) Whew!

Bakary's experience was a little different. Before he learned to make his own money, his caregiver would often walk with him to the nearby gas station and buy him a treat. This got out of hand one day when during a walk, he ran into the gas station, grabbed and treat and wouldn't let it go. The caregiver didn't have any money to pay for the candy and the attendant threatened to call the police until a kind by-stander stepped in to pay. Emergency averted, PRAISE GOD! (You can only imagine my freak-out hearing this story recanted :-0 )

At that point I got Bakary a wallet and created an earning system so that my Baby would have money in his pocket! He would never be in that position again. So far, so good.

Instead of being taught how to make their own money, some ASD (Autism Syndrome Disorder) individuals are handicapped because we, parents and caregivers, try to take care of their every need by giving them food, clothes, videos, toys and anything else they want. We (me especially) must learn to help them help themselves.

Fortunately, I've been exposed to parents who've pushed their children, incrementally, with great success obtaining phenomenal independence. There wonderful programs and agencies like Tierra Del Sol ( https://tierradelsol.org/ ) that help employ our young Men and Women.

We all know of people, without disabilities, who are in their 20s and 30s and are still totally dependent on their parents. They reside with Moms and Dads who provide food, clothes, shelter, cable and even pay their grown child's phone & car bills. You know I'm telling the truth. This is not just a special needs thing. (I did the Black Girl Neck ;-)

(Help us Lord and forgive me if I am out of line.)

The point is, WE are constantly jumping over the moon to create amiable conditions for our children diagnosed with autism, whether we acknowledge it or not, OUR KIDS NEED AND WANT TO EARN THEIR OWN MONEY!!!

My girlfriend, Desiree, has a 23-year-old son named Jelani. She helped him learn how to earn by keeping his room clean, taking care of the dogs, the trash and the dishes. Over the years having his own money has motivated him to find ways to make MORE money. At the same time he expands his desire to create and serve, principles instilled in him by his Mother.

Jelani's first idea was to sell T-shirts. He would cut out favorite characters from magazines and newspapers, tape them onto his t-shirt and wear them to school. By doing this, his Mom helped encourage his creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

He learned from a Police Officer that it was against the law to take shopping carts off grocery store property. While walking the dogs he noticed carts. He got 2 bungee cords (one to pull and one to link) and began collecting carts and returning them to his local grocery, Vons. When an officer saw him Jelani politely stated how he was not doing anything illegal, but returning the carts to the store - to the amazement and pleasure of the Officer.

After a few weeks, Jelani approached the Von's Manager to request employment. The Manager was quite open, letting Jelani's Mother know that he would have to fill out an application. Desiree was hesitant to move forward so Jelani made his money elsewhere.

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." I Corinthians 16:13.
Jelani's entrepreneurial skills continued to develop. While he returned carts, he noticed people collecting recyclables. This led to his next venture-- collecting cardboard. Now his business includes recycling cardboard. He spends one day a week at his mom's place of employment, The Family Christian Bookstore in Mission Hills, breaking down boxes and taking the cardboard to earn extra money. He also vacuums the store.

Desiree says, "Jelani is up and out of the house before I am. He knows all the garbage pick-up schedules in the neighborhood." He collects boxes the night before and the morning of the pick-ups because those are the days when there are plenty of boxes. He told his Mom that he had to beat the other people to the boxes! Competition motivated Jelani. This young man travels 1 to 2 miles per day, 4 to 5 days a week and he makes $50 to $80 per week!

Jaleni wanted to work. He often told his mom , "Everybody else has a job. I want a job!" Well he created a job for himself! And God is blessing him as he forges ahead with confidence.
People have noticed Jelani's hard work. Over the Christmas holidays people stopped him to GIVE him money saying, "Thank you for recycling." This made him so proud.

Jelani's great joy is sponsoring Angela, in the Dominican Republic, through Compassion Child Int'l for $1.22 per day. He saw his Mom sponsoring a child, setting aside money each month. (You know they do what we do ... not what we say to do.)

This AWESOME Young Man also finds pleasure in doing nice things for his Mom, often giving her gas money. He knows how hard she works and how she always finds time to do something special for he and his sisters. One day when his pockets were full he told his mother to meet him at Subway after work. To her surprise, he bought her dinner! What a Gentleman!

God says in Proverbs 16:23, The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips.

There is wisdom in our young people who work and who want to work, no matter how small the task. Many of us are in the position to employ them, in our homes, in our churches, in our schools, in our corporations. We can start them as volunteers, interns or apprentices who eventually become wage earners. Let's step up! Let's include individuals with autism into the work force. Let's contact organizations like Tierra Del Sol (https://tierradelsol.org/ ) to create internships and liaisons with our employers.

There are BIG blessings from heaven in THIS venture! Not to mention the joyfilled face of the person receiving payment ... We can throw in a hug for good measure ;-)

Please forward this wonderful news to inspire those you know and love.

Thank you for your time.
For comments email me at VThiero@aol.com
Facebook.com/Vana Thiero

Vana Thiero, Autism Advocate and Documentarian, also serves on the Board of Directors of two non-profit organizations: The Samaritan's House Foundation and Safe Passage. To learn more about these charities visit thesamaritanshouse.org and safepassagelives.org.