Tell me the truth: What would your reaction be, if you encountered a kid like Leo endlessly pacing a playground structure as in the video below? If you didn't read this blog, or blogs like it; if you didn't have your own Leo, if you weren't a variation on Leo yourself? Would you back away awkwardly from the weird kid while scanning the perimeter for his adult? Would you tell your own children in an intentionally over-loud voice, "well, I don't know what he's doing so we'll wait until he's all done"?
Or would you relax into his joy, recognize it, accept that pacing a circuit is some kids' idea of The Very Best Fun?
(Please tell me it's the latter. I've been busting my ass just a little bit for Autism Acceptance Month. More below.)
At Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, Our Slice of Life: All Autistics Autism Acceptance Month series continues to rock on, showcasing autistics of all ages and abilities -- so stay tuned and keep reading (Leo may make an appearance).
From the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network: All Done Autism Acceptance:
I did not start out from a place of acceptance. As a disability community outsider and a fairly non-intuitive person, I lacked the context, experience, and insight to see past our society’s too-prevalent autism stereotypes of pity and parental burdens. I never knew anyone who identified as Autistic, never realized the full variation of the autistic experience, never considered that autism did not have to preclude Leo from living a full and happy life. Thankfully, the online and offline worlds are alight with autism acceptance trail blazers — autistics of course, professionals and parents too. They have not only shown me the way, but shown me incredible patience along the way (I’m not always the best listener). And I remain mindful that I still have much to learn about autism, and that much of that learning will come from Leo himself.From an interview with Annie Fox about Thinking Person's Guide to Autism:
What we try to do in our book is help people learn to think critically and rationally about autism even when they are in the midst of this whirlwind of new information. So many parents are so distraught when they learn their child is diagnosed with autism. We want to help them through that. And we want to let them know that even though the media tends to perceive people with autism and special needs like this lightning bolt of ‘bad luck,’ people with special needs are part of our community. They’ve always been here. This is just another way of being. These people need more understanding. Yes! They need more support. Yes! But that doesn’t make them “other” or “less than.” These are families that need compassion and understanding, but not pity. We want to help people get past fear, myths and negative stereotypes.The good folks at Babble Toddler Times wanted input about early intervention and autism (they also wanted advice for other paents to feature -- I suggested an autistic autism parent, but the logistics did not work out):
My advice is threefold: Find a pediatrician who takes your concerns seriously, find positive, evidence-based autism resources and role models (this is exactly why we created Thinking Person's Guide to Autism), and try to understand that your child's behavior is a form of communication. Our kids deserve to achieve their potential, but can easily get left behind if their unique needs are not properly identified and addressed early on. Autism experts can help us recognize where our kids need help — be it with communication, self-help, academics, or social skills — and the best strategies for supporting their needs.And in a bit of a surprise, Babble named this site one of their Top 30 Autism Blogs of 2012. Frankly, Thinking Person's Guide to Autism would have been a better choice (also, Leo and I never met Steve Jobs, though my spy network says he really liked Leo's part in the Apple iPad video) -- but being included is flattering, and I'm grateful. (And you should vote for TPGA for next year!)
Finally, we've had TPGA interviews for a ton of additional radio stations: KCBS-AM San Francisco, WSNJ-AM Philadelphia, WVNE-AM Boston, WYRQ-FM Minneapolis, WOND-AM Philadelphia, WQYK-FM Tampa, and four more coming. Mali and Leo heard the local interview with Jeff Bell; Mali was so impressed that she waited until the segment was over before demanding I put her Goblet of Fire audio book back on. Should you ever need to get the word out about a book, I hope you'll be fortunate enough to enlist the services of the phenomenal Media Masters Publicity -- we have them to thank for these radio spots!