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Dawn Smith - No Longer Alone at the Lunch Table

Dawn SmithEveryone has given up on me.  I sat alone again today at the lunch table and was the last one picked for the volleyball team during PE.  I don’t know what do to or how much longer I can take this.  Making friends is so difficult. It’s easier just being alone and not talking to anyone.

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I felt like I did when I was in the hospital.  The doctors used to put me in solitary confinement because they thought that Asperger’s Syndrome was a behavioral problem, not a development disability.  If I so much as moved, they extended my time there.  That was at the hospital. They would throw things at me and watch with glee as I acted out and was sent to confinement again. I’m not sure what’s worse – hospital then, or school now.

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Today I picked up a YWCA flyer for a program called Girls In Action.  It looked interesting so I signed up.  Veronica from the YWCA talked about GIA as a fun place for girls to be girls.  I’m not sure what that means, but I’ll give it a try.  And Veronica seemed very nice and caring … like she already knew me.

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I’ve been in GIA for one week now.  I like it. Today, we talked about the media and how it portrays women and girls in good and bad ways.  We all shared our thoughts on different magazine ads and laughed a lot. Veronica is very smart and helped us interpret the ads.  The girls are very funny too, and they’re nice to me.

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At lunchtime today, I saw a few of the GIA girls and they invited me to sit with them! We talked about what we had done the day before at GIA and laughed at some of the magazine ads we studied. After school, Veronica picked us up and we all walked together to the YWCA. During GIA, we started planning Girls Night Out, a night at the YWCA where we play games, sing, dance, and spend time with each other and our moms. I thought that everyone thought spending time with mom wasn’t cool, but it is cool!

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I feel so different now.  I have friends and school is fun!  Things have really started to change.  I’ve gone from “lonely girl” to “take charge of my life and make some friends girl!”

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My mom told me today how happy she was because for the first time, I look forward to and enjoy school.  It’s true and it’s because of GIA!  She says that in GIA girls are accepted no matter what, even if you have special needs.  What amazes my mom is that after spending so much money on therapy, counseling and other interventions, what ended up working the best for me was GIA, a free program.  She also likes participating as a GIA mom.  GIA is not one of those “drop off and pick up your child” programs she says; it includes parents in many activities.  I like this too because I can introduce my mom to the friends I’ve made and she can see me having a good time. It makes her happy and relieved. It makes me happy too.

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I realized today that if it weren’t for GIA, I would still be sitting alone at the lunch table.


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