This guest blog post was written by Ernesto Zuniga Lopez who works with RDI consultant Jenny Palmiotto

ernesto-zuniga-lopezI’ve been in RDI for a few years, and it has helped me a lot, including the relationship with my own family, which is full of love, support, and understanding. It has also helped me at school and also in the outside world. Thanks to this, I have learned about hanging out with more people, have a great time, and even talking with some girls, which I find particularly difficult.

With RDI, I have learned to self-advocate and to do many things on my own. I’m self-sufficient and more independent. I can also think about others rather than only myself. Most of all, I have learned to be proud of who I am. I love to share my experiences with others.

Through RDI I got the strength to pursue my dream and participate in the LA Opera Camp, and practice for my future career. I recently sang an Elvis Presley song dedicated Anita & Abraham, an autistic couple that was married at Love & Autism. I also participated as part of the young spectrum panel. I love helping others through my experiences.

Related: ASD and Independence

With all that I have learned, my life has change forever. Little by little I’m getting to know the true meaning of friendship. However, all of my friends are in the autism spectrum just like me, and I know it’s very important that I expand my friendships outside of my “own circle of trust.”

I’ve been educated to be responsible, honest, and real. I am kind by nature and I want to befriend people who have the same issues that I have, because we may feel the same way and share similar circumstances, we can understand each other.

At this time, I still having trouble talking with people at school because they’re so rude and say jokes that I don’t even like or understand. I still struggle with loneliness. I know I still have important areas to work on in order to have a successful life.  My next step is college, my license and maybe a girlfriend. I get worried about the future but I know uncertainty is part of life.

I am grateful to have my mother’s loving support and have found an RDI consultant that I respect and trust.

This is my life with RDI.

Ernesto Zuniga Lopez is a 17-year-old young man that lives with his mother and sister in Chula Vista, California.  He attends East Lake High School. He has an immense passion for music and opera. Ernesto describes opera as a way to connect with others through music. Ernesto was recently accepted to the prestigious LA Opera Camp and will be part of the cast that performs an original piece on civil rights. He participated as an usher at the marriage of Anita & Abraham at Love & Autism. Ernesto started his RDI program in 2012 with RDI consultant, Jenny Palmiotto at The Family Guidance & Therapy Center of Southern California. 

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