WESTFIELD, NJ — Teenage autism advocate and Westfield High School junior Alex Jackman, whose video "A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism" has won awards at film festivals throughout the country, was recently chosen as a Choice Changemaker through Scholastic and received a Points of Light Award for her work running monthly socials for teens with special needs.
“It is great to get the recognition, and I hope it encourages others to get involved in their communities,” Jackman said. “Often, recognition leads to more people seeing and hopefully learning about acceptance, which I think is definitely the best part.”
Jackman said she is inspired by special needs children and teens she has met.
“I know so many incredibly talented, funny and interesting individuals on the spectrum, and I am motivated to continue my autism advocacy work because I want everyone to be able to recognize great people. And everyone should be welcomed and understood in their communities,” Jackman said.
The teen said she plans to continue running teen socials once a month and speaking to organizations about autism. This weekend, she spoke at Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains. In March, she plans to speak at a middle school in Paramus for Disability Awareness month. She is also starting to work with the Autism Center at Montclair State University to develop a curriculum that can be used along side her film, she said.
Jackman encouraged other teens to get involved in causes they care about.
“You are never too young to make a difference, especially if you have passion for a cause,” she said. “Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. People are often, more than you would expect, more than happy to support you, especially if they share a similar passion.”