ORLANDO, Fla. — The month of April is known for celebrating autism awareness. However, one autistic young woman says April shouldn’t be about awareness -- it should be about acceptance.

  • Pastiche Graham spreading message of acceptance toward autism
  • Graham resident at Quest Village, where she lives independently
  • Graham hopes to become well-known public speaker

There are some things you just can’t change in life, like being diagnosed with autism.

“I felt like society didn’t treat me as if I was a person,” said 22-year-old Pastiche Graham.

It’s taken some time, but Graham said she has finally come to terms with it.

“It feels like I am not even diagnosed; it feels like it’s a hidden gift,” she added.

Graham who has always found comfort in journaling is in the process of writing two autism related books. One will be a children’s book while the other is geared towards teens and young adults on the autism spectrum.

“I really want to present myself to the world and just help people realize that acceptance is there,” she explained.

Graham is a resident at Quest Village, a community for folks with developmental disabilities. She believes that living independently at Quest Village is what has truly pushed her to do more.

“There are needs,” reiterated John Gill, the President and CEO of Quest, Inc. “There are needs for dollars and resources so that we could do more research and figure out ways to accommodate these individuals so that they can participate fully in society, (because) its important.”

Graham has already spoken out about her journey at local events but hopes to one day become a well-known public speaker and carry her message across the nation.

“I am ready for you, and I ready to change the world. So let’s go about it,” she said.

Quest Inc. will be celebrating inclusion during their Camp Thunderbird event over the summer. It is a camp for young adults with developmental disabilities and their siblings without, to learn more about acceptance.

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