by Rusty Hornig-Rohan a Global Autism Project staff member and part of our RAISE (Real Advancement Independent Social Skills and Empowerment) program participating in the current SkillCorps trip to the DR

**students’ names have been changed

On Friday February 19th, I played ball toss with Carlos. I translated for Julio during his ABA session when he did a successful job putting the fruit and vegetable puzzles together independently. Sara, Kat, Me, and Sarah and the rest of The SkillCorps Team members drove up to Las Terrenas. The Atlantis Hotel in Las Terrenas was nice.

On Saturday February 20th, Melvin the tour guide and Sara and Kat and Sarah and I visited his brother’s farm and had delicious bananas with chocolate. We also saw banana plants, coconut plants, pineapple plants, and coffee plants. I rode Victorino my horse towards the La Cascada Limón-The Lemon Cascade Waterfall (the tallest waterfall in The Dominican Republic). Riding the horse was fun and the trails were rough. I went swimming in the water near the waterfalls and the water was freezing.

On Sunday February 21st, my SkillCorps Team Members and I woke up and relaxed on the beach. The drive back to Santo Domingo was great. It is great to be back in the quiet apartments in Santo Domingo.

On Monday February 22nd, Juan ate Mandarin Oranges independently for the first time. Juan was starting to cry and getting agitated during an ABA Therapy Session with Patricia and I translated for Juan by telling him to stay calm during ABA Therapy. Emanuel put together a puzzle independently and pointed to all of the objects but tried to rip the puzzle apart when he had to put his puzzle away. Emanuel and Rosanny each played with his toy giraffe. Emanuel enjoyed feeding the toy balls to his toy giraffe like he usually does.

On Tuesday February 23rd, I translated the song If You’re Happy and You Know It for Maria and Emanuel at Aprendo from English to Spanish. I met Maria one of the ABA Therapists at The Aprendo Autism Center in The Dominican Republic.

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On Wednesday February 24th, I sang Yo Tengo Una Casita or I Have A Little House with Rosanny and Patricia and Chantal and the children during an ABA Therapy Session. The children at Aprendo also read Chick-Chick-A-Boom-Boom. I did well during my mock presentation on what it is like to be an individual with autism who is happy and independent.

On Thursday February 25th, I did a wonderful presentation at UNIBE-Universidad IboAmericana a wonderful University in The Dominican Republic about what it is like to be an individual with autism who is happy and independent. I talked about how autism has affected my life a lot. I also talked about my future plans like seeing every national park in the United States and learning new languages like Hindi.

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On Friday February 26th, I visited Aprendo and I am almost finished with my blogs and International Research. I visited Zona Colonial and I saw The Christopher Columbus Lighthouse. I also saw the beautiful Santo Domingo Port.

On Saturday February 27th, I am ready to head back to New York City. I had a long exhausting flight back from Santo Domingo. I loved my trip to The Dominican Republic. I hope to go back to The Dominican Republic sometime in the future.

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