Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I work with people with autism and I think that’s helped me to identify with them and identify that if they’re having an issue, why it’s an issue.’

Elisanna Carai, Levittown

“I have an auditory processing disorder. It was a challenge socially and academically and also because I couldn’t hear in my right ear, I’m deaf in that ear. It was very hard as a child to make friends. I didn’t know how to connect with people because I wasn’t able to talk to people in a group. It would become overwhelming very quickly. In college when I realized this was an issue, I started to find better ways to cope. I would sit in certain areas; I would make sure it was quieter.

“I’m still not comfortable with large groups of people because it becomes very overwhelming. I can’t have a one-on-one conversation with someone if it’s loud in a room. There’s this level of processing that doesn’t happen when there’s a lot of people in the room. I’m an over communicator. I want things to be clear on my end so I ask a lot of questions. It’s only because I want to understand the whole picture.

Why else are we on this earth if you’re not connecting with people? It appears harder in this season but it’s so powerful to remember a piece of somebody, that could be life changing.

“I work with people with autism and I think that’s helped me to identify with them and identify that if they’re having an issue, why it’s an issue. How can I better communicate with them? I really look for people’s strengths and pay attention to what they say. Because I don’t have the ability to hear like everyone else, it’s forced me to pay attention to what other people are saying. I really pay attention to what people say and it really matters to me. Especially, if you have someone with a disability, it can be trial and error to figure out what’s best for them. And that’s really fun for me. It’s not only that you’re getting to know the person, but you’re also finding out their strengths and weaknesses and helping them achieve their goals by really paying attention and delving into what works for them.

“Seeing people as who they are is extremely powerful and meaningful. When you actually see that person as who they are, it can be life changing to someone. Why else are we on this earth if you’re not connecting with people? It appears harder in this season but it’s so powerful to remember a piece of somebody, that could be life changing. And you only remember that if you listen.”