This is what autism can feel like

Nearly 1 in 68 children in America have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While every individual is different, this video shows the sensory thresholds that many with autism experience.

"I’m autistic. And sometimes I get too much information," Holly says.

"It’s as if my brain is too crowded – and about to explode."

The video walks the viewer through Holly's day, detailing every interaction as they compound into sensory overload.

While the short film depicts Holly's experience, other viewers who are autistic have voiced that theirs is different, expressing that there should be more videos out there that portray autism in a positive light.

For example, one YouTube comment said:

I am autistic and I find this video to be insulting, it makes me feel as if I am stupid not able to cope with anything. Not everyone with autism is like this. It makes people with autism look bad to others, we should be promoting how people with autism have positive traits not negative all the time.

But others shared a more positive response:

This is exactly what life is like for me! I am shocked and amazed at the accuracy. This made me cry with happiness as we (autistics) are finally being understood. I am proud to be autistic and I love my special autism traits. I also find life incredibly difficult and am glad this side of autism is being portrayed. I'm female and pleased to see a girl playing this role

These comments illustrate that every one experiences the world a little bit differently. It's part of what makes humanity beautiful.

The video concludes by saying, "Take a minute and give an autistic person more time to process information. Understand autism, the person, and the change you can make."

Holly's story is a reminder for all of us to show more empathy toward each other. If we all took a minute to better understand one another, the world would certainly be a friendlier place.

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For more information, visit www.autism.org.uk/TMI.

The Big Pig Project

RICHMOND, VA - Good Neighbor is happy to be a sponsor of The Big Pig Project benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a home away from home for families with children in the hospital.

Organizations in the community have partnered with RMHC by hand-painting concrete garden pigs that will be auctioned off on April 22nd. The money raised will go to support Richmond's Ronald McDonald House.

The Good Neighbor garden pig ("Mr. Pig") was hand-painted by the individuals at Good Neighbor Day Support, a place for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to enjoy art, exercise, technology, and other enriching activities.

Follow Mr. Pig's big journey:

Mr. Pig before his makeover

Mr. Pig before his makeover

Individuals and staff at Day Support layering the first coat of paint

Individuals and staff at Day Support layering the first coat of paint

Concentration and precision is key!

Concentration and precision is key!

A personal touch :)

A personal touch :)

Mr. Pig gave everyone the opportunity to make their mark

Mr. Pig gave everyone the opportunity to make their mark

Mr. Pig is ready for the auction!

Mr. Pig is ready for the auction!

A big thank you to all the individuals and staff at Good Neighbor Day Support for their wonderful contribution to The Big Pig Project.

For more information on how you can support Ronald McDonald House Charities through the The Big Pig Project, visit RMHC Richmond.

Career Day in Church Hill

RICHMOND, VA - LaToya Cotman and Jakima Bloomfield of Good Neighbor represented mental health professionals at George Mason Elementary's career day in Church Hill yesterday.

Firefighters, police officers, bee keepers, and others were there as well to give 3rd graders the opportunity to see what a day in the life looks like.

As mental health counselors, Cotman and Bloomfield taught the students about positive coping skills and ways to help identify and talk about emotions. They even used Skittles as an easy and fun way for students to share what they enjoy, what makes them angry, or a favorite memory.

Understanding your own inner world while being able to empathize and communicate with others is a vital skill for all of us when it comes to developing a healthy mind as well as healthy relationships.

So a big thank you Cotman and Bloomfield for taking the time to help sharpen the minds of the youth in our community. We hope the students were inspired to learn more about mental health, and who knows, maybe one of them will become a counselor one day, too!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Let us know below :)

First ever Miss Hanover Abilities

Good Neighbor is proud to have been a sponsor of the Miss Hanover Abilities Pageant put on by Hanover Community Support Services last weekend.

The night was wonderful and the contestants were stunning in every way.

From musical performances to dance routines to reciting every US president in order, the talent segment made Atlee High School the spot to be in Richmond on Saturday night.

Several of the young ladies in the competition have lived lives often overlooked by those in their communities who might see them as "different". But what exactly is a disability?

As the neighborly Mr. Fred Rogers once said:

Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.

Last weekend, it was impossible to overlook the courage, strength, talent, and beauty emanating from the stage of the Miss Abilities Pageant. It was a bright light that illuminated the heart of everyone in the auditorium, revealing the depth of what it means to be a person.

Congratulations to Sarah Chenault for being crowned the first ever Miss Hanover Abilities, and a special thank you to Amy Gregory and Ashley Gregory for coordinating the event. We look forward to many more years to come!

Sarah Chenault and Heath Pond, Residential Director at Good Neighbor

Sarah Chenault and Heath Pond, Residential Director at Good Neighbor

Sarah poses with her family after being crowned the first ever Miss Hanover Abilities

Sarah poses with her family after being crowned the first ever Miss Hanover Abilities

Batman goes to Polar Plunge!

Batman’s identity was revealed at this year’s Polar Plunge in Virginia Beach!

Earlier this month (when it was still cold), Adam left from Day Support for the Polar Plunge, where he raised over $800 for the Special Olympics. 

We’re incredibly proud of Adam and his hard work and dedication.

Who knew he was also fighting crime this whole time!

Crystal Lipford, Assistant Residential Director at Good Neighbor, along with Adam’s mother, Shawnette, were also there to support him.

Adam by the Polar Plunge ice sculpture.

Adam by the Polar Plunge ice sculpture.

There were many sponsors at this year's Polar Plunge, all for a good cause!

There were many sponsors at this year's Polar Plunge, all for a good cause!

Everyone who participated had the opportunity to dress up. (We still think Batman was hands down the coolest).

Everyone who participated had the opportunity to dress up. (We still think Batman was hands down the coolest).

Meet Kim Vu, PMHNP

Kim Yen Vu, PMHNP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the Good Neighbor Jahnke Road office in Richmond. We asked her some questions to get to know her better:

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

I enjoy helping people the most. I enjoy piecing together the puzzles that make each story different and unique.

Do you have any philosophies behind the work that you do?

My philosophy is "take it one day at time." Even though the nature of this profession can be stressful, I just remind myself that ultimately, I am just trying to help others.

What motivates you in your work?

Again, it all comes down to helping the public. I want to do good and provide services for those in need.

What’s something unique about you?

My family immigrated from Vietnam in the early 90's. I was 6 years old at the time. I have a huge family! I'm one of 9 kids and I have 16 nieces and nephews!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Europe. I've seen so many pictures and videos and it has become a dream of mine. I would love to see Italy, Spain, France, all of it!

Where did you go to school? How long have you been in the field?

I went to VCU School of Nursing. I worked as an RN for about 4 years before going back to school for my master's degree. I have been practicing as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner for about 1 and a half years.

Tell us a little about your family.

I am the 8th out of 9 children. I have one son, age 2. I've been happily married for 6 years to my wonderful husband. 

Last question, what are you most excited about in your life right now?

My family! I am so grateful for everything that I've been blessed with.

Sarah Chamberlain, outpatient practice manager at Good Neighbor, describes Kim as a team player in every sense of the word and someone who keeps her composure in every situation.

We’re happy to have her on our team!

Learn more about the mental health care services at Good Neighbor.