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In the new year, resolve to Do One Thing for someone else

Author Patrick Paul
Date January 2, 2019

With the turn of the calendar comes the annual pressure of transforming our habits and our lives: the New Year’s Resolution challenge. Most of us have been conditioned from the time we’re young to develop impressive lists of things we intend to do — or do better — in the new year. Lose weight. Exercise more. Amass great wealth. Win the lottery. From the mundane to the miraculous, we’ve got everything covered, and imagine that a simple list could make this year the best one yet.

What if we had to limit ourselves to one resolution? And what if we resolved to “Do One Thing” — not for ourselves, but for someone else?

Businesses and organizations in the Village of Rhinebeck will be committing in 2019 to Do One Thing — and that one thing will not only shape the new year for those involved, but will impact people for years to come.

Here’s the idea: as part of its efforts to become designated an Autism Supportive Community, those who sign on to the Do One Thing effort in Rhinebeck will pledge to make at least one adjustment to their facilities or to the way they operate. The objective is to create atmospheres throughout the village that are more supportive for people with Autism and their families. The One Thing they should do? It might be softening their lighting or piping in gentler music for those overstimulated by loud sounds. It might be creating picture boards at the register for those who communicate through visuals rather than through words. It might be creating a space for folks to decompress, for those who are experiencing sensory overload. Whatever “thing” each participant chooses to do, it will be done to make Rhinebeck more welcoming for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families.

By resolving to each Do One Thing, this group of visionary community members will collectively set an example for communities throughout the country and — hopefully — all over the globe. They will show that simple modifications can make a world of difference for people impacted by the neurological disorder, which presents with communication, social, and behavioral challenges. They will empower people with disabilities by creating settings that are more conducive to buying, exploring, and experiencing. They will enable families to leave their homes and enjoy business districts and public events, where they can shop, connect, and dine with the peace of mind that comes from knowing the community is set up to support their loved ones. Ultimately, these Do One Thing humanitarians will set an example for other towns, cities, and villages to become more sensitive to the needs of the 1 in 59 people diagnosed with Autism.

Yes — by each doing just one thing.

What would it look like if we all let go of those resolutions we will likely set aside by Jan. 15th, and instead resolve to Do One Thing for people with Autism and other special needs? What would it look like to focus on doing one thing to improve the quality of life for someone else – either instead of, or in addition to – improving life for ourselves?

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, for most of us, it’d certainly be far easier to Do One Thing to make our spaces more autism-friendly than it is to give up carbs. And, truth be told: doing something for someone else is by far usually the most nourishing thing we can do for ourselves.