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Weitz Insights

A group of 14 people pose for a photo indoors against a background of silver crystal strands. The individuals are dressed in formal attire and are smiling at the camera.

Carleton Weitz Fellows | May 28, 2024

Weitz Fellow Voices: Diana at Autism Action Partnership

By Diana Kachman

This is a guest blog written by one of our Weitz Fellows, Diana Kachman. This blog is estimated to take 3 minutes to read.

Hello! My name is Diana Kachman (she/her) and I am the 2023-2024 Weitz Fellow at Autism Action Partnership (AAP). I was very grateful to be able to join AAP in serving the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community. My interest in autism began after one of my family members was diagnosed and I wanted to understand her experience more. I also have a passion for working with underrepresented communities within the medical field, so I wanted to learn as much as possible during my fellowship.

At AAP, I work primarily with the Education and Outreach team. I have helped create graphics, registration pages, translated survey responses, and volunteered for our Making Memories events, which offer sensory-friendly experiences for families. I spend most of my time helping with Project Lifesaver, a program that administers and maintains tracker bracelets for individuals with ASD who elope. I interpret for Spanish-speaking families during enrollments, organize and lead battery change appointments with the parents, and translate new documents. I translated and recorded a Project Lifesaver Caregiver Training video and Intro to Autism video in Spanish so that they can be accessible to more people.

The battery change appointments have been especially important to my experience. Typically, I cut the bracelet off and replace the battery with a new one while giving the participant sensory toys to play with and making small talk with their caretaker(s). Although there has been so many of them since I joined, I learn something new each time. From understanding how to comfort a child during their appointment to helping with problems that a parent informs us of, these appointments have been vital to learning about this community.

During my time with AAP, I have done a rotation with A-Team, helping with the Tuesday/Thursday junior varsity winter sessions and finding possible activities for these sessions. A-Team is an after-school program that encourages youth on the spectrum to express themselves and socialize with their peers. Afterward, I helped do weekly check-ins with a handful of participants in Prosper Workforce Services (PWS), which helps adults with autism find meaningful employment. I also created a digital etiquette presentation series for PWS and Prosper Academy. On a day-to-day basis, I answer the information box, take calls, and connect people to ASD resources.

Moving to Omaha was also my first time ever in Nebraska! From my apartment, I am able to walk to the Blackstone District for a Coneflower Creamery ice cream cone. I have watched a soccer game at Werner Park, gone to Henry Doorly Zoo, and even seen Angela Davis speak at a I Be Black Girl’s Reproductive Justice Summit, all because of my Weitz Fellowship. For anyone hoping to visit Omaha, I recommend visiting Joslyn Castle, Lewis and Clark Landing, and Hitchcock Nature Center in nearby Iowa: all places I took my grandmother Nini when she visited me!

Thank you to the Autism Action Partnership and the Weitz Family Foundation for this career opportunity!


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