March 20, 2023Autism Acceptance Month 2023

April is #AutismAcceptanceMonth. PEFCU’s Core Values include Care and Inclusivity. We strive to live these values every day by celebrating each person’s uniqueness, like fingerprints. This month, we will be sharing stories from PEFCU associates and their families about their experience with Autism 

Amanda & Sawyer

Amanda Notheis, a Loan Operations Specialist at PEFCU, wanted to share her son Sawyer’s story.

Sawyer is seven years old and was diagnosed with Autism about 2 years ago. Amanda describes Sawyer as high-functioning, which means he can still carry on a regular lifestyle and attend a mainstream school, but he is extremely sensitive to certain environments and has some pretty extreme social disabilities.  

We asked Amanda what she wants others to know, and she says, “When you see someone acting out, in public, don’t assume they just have bad behavior. If that person is autistic, that behavior is completely common for them and something they cannot control. Our journey with autism has taught me to be more patient and understanding with people in general.”  

She also says, “Every day is a challenge, but our family continues to lean on each other as we grow and learn about Autism.” 

Megan & Benjamin 

Megan Mason, a Staff Internal Auditor at PEFCU, wants to share her cousin Benjamin’s story.

Megan watched Benjamin have a difficult time expressing his emotions with words when he was very young. She says that Benjamin has grown into a wonderful young man.  

Although he is not as verbal as others, Benjamin loves to swim, he loves his family, and he’s very intelligent. “He could probably teach us more about electronics and vehicles than some of us would ever know,” Megan says.  

We asked Megan what she wants others to know, and she says, “Do your research on autism. Be accepting, understanding, and patient with autistic people.”

Sandra & Khalani 

Sandra Christie, a Sr. People & Culture Business Partner at PEFCU, wants to share her son Khalani’s story. 

Khalani loves trains, and he can tell you everything about diesels and steamies. His number one goal is to work for CSX Corporation as a train conductor. He likes to help strangers and approach them to learn about the breed of their dogs.  

Sandra told us that her journey as Khalani’s mother and advocate, while creative and inspiring, continues to be exhausting, unpredictable, and lonely at times. She wishes there were more resources and support for caregivers as their children grow and develop. According to her, no two children with Autism are alike: It’s a spectrum. 

Zakia & Janaye

Zakia Fox, Teller Operations Support, wants to share her daughter’s story.

Her daughter, Janaye, was diagnosed at a young age with a high-functioning form of Autism. Zakia tells us that they struggled at first, but after they figured out Janaye’s learning style, she began to bloom.  

Janaye learned how to read music and play the trumpet and piano when she was very young. She graduated with her class and is now attending college away from home, progressing well on her own. She is unique, loves anime and drawing, and is very tech-savvy with things most people would struggle to figure out.  

Janaye got her first job last year and is learning how to manage her own finances. 

For more information about Autism and to help a great cause, visit @NeuroClastic is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization led by autistic self-advocates. They are shaping the narrative around neurodiversity in their own voices. 

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