Helping Youth with Autism and Learning Differences Shape Their Futures
By THOMAS W. ILAND and EMILY D. ILAND
Having autism, I’ve worked really hard for the success I’ve achieved in life so far: driving, living on my own, having a girlfriend, graduating from college and becoming a certified public accountant. I’ve overcome struggles and setbacks to create the life I want for myself. I am now feeling much happier and more fulfilled since I left accounting to dedicate myself full-time to helping others find their own success. I especially love helping my peers on the autism spectrum and with other learning differences.
Today is an especially joyful day for me, announcing the launch of my first book, Come to Life! Your Guide to Self-Discovery. Like the title says, the central theme of the book is the process of self-discovery. Many individuals with autism (and other learning differences) don’t truly understand themselves or know how their disability affects them. As a result, they may experience feelings of inadequacy, guilt or shame. Without understanding themselves and their disability, they struggle to accept and love themselves.
My secret to success is summed up in my mantra: “Know Yourself. Love Yourself. Be Yourself.” I explain what this means in Come to Life!, and I am confident that readers will benefit from embracing this mantra. I hope that readers can recognize both their gifts and their “areas for improvement” after reading Come to Life! so they can become more confident and successful.
While youth without disabilities have the chance to discover who they are and what they want in life, many young people with special needs, particularly students in special education, don’t have the same opportunities. Come to Life! offers interesting activities and resources to help readers discover important truths about themselves for planning their adult life. Everyone should have their voice heard no matter how mildly or severely they are impacted by their disability. This will allow them to shape their own futures rather than living a life that someone else has planned for them.
My mother, Emily Iland, is my co-author. She’s also an award-winning author, educator and advocate. Having overseen the many peaks and valleys of my life, she offers valuable insight and suggestions for learning. I hope that what my mother and I share in Come to Life! will be inspiring and helpful to young people and the allies who care about them (parents, teachers and other professionals).
Come to Life! is my passion project. I hope that it will have a positive impact and make a difference in the lives of people with and without disabilities! I would love to hear from you! I’ll be sharing readers’ comments on my social media. It is also very exciting to have the chance to share the important messages of Come to Life! with audiences across the country. I hope to present to your group or community soon!
Come to Life! Your Guide to Self-Discovery is now available exclusively at WWW.THOMASILAND.COM. Visit my website TODAY for more information!