Earlier this year there was a bit of a buzz about an article in The Atlantic about Donald Gray Triplett—who in 1943 was the first child to ever be diagnosed as “autistic.”
The article itself (by John Donvan and Caren Zucker) is really fantastic. Even though it is a bit long for a web piece, it is totally worth your time. I love the introductory story where Donald’s talent (in other words—savant capabilities) for math catches the attention of a travelling entertainer who asks if Donald can join him for his travelling show:
whether they spoke this aloud to their guest or not, [there was] the sheer indignity of what Polgar was proposing. Donald’s being odd, his parents could not undo; his being made an oddity of, they could, and would, prevent. The offer was politely but firmly declined.
I really can’t say enough about this article. I haven’t read anything on the topic that I’ve appreciated so much.
But of all the connectedness of an article like this to my own heart’s strings, it is this image that invoked the most emotion.
For even in a photograph you can see his eyes are so piercing that they’re transcendent. Like the eyes of most individuals whom I’ve met with autism—on the rare occasion that they happen to look straight into your own, they’ll see right through into your soul.
After years of practice I’m lucky to now get a chance to look my son in the eye at least once every day and it still gives me butterflies every time.
Luckily it took very little research to discover the man behind this particular lens—Miller Mobley.
I’ve been involved with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network for the past 4 years.
The tricky part about an autism community/support group is that everyone is so busy with their own kids (babysitters are rarely an option) that meetings are difficult and volunteer involvement has to be spread thin across a lot of people.
I wish I could be involved more, but the least I can do is create some cool designs for ARN from time to time…
A couple big news stories in the world of autism have parents frustrated once again.
First, the infamous Dr. Wakefield was stripped of his license by Britain’s medical council, and then later in the week Reuters published an article suggesting that early intervention may not really make a difference when treating children with autism.
Which is in direct contrast to the only one absolute we’ve ever had… that your best hope is to intervene early.
Early. Early. Early.
So parents everywhere are reacting in anger, throwing emotionally charged adjectives in support of their personal intervention strategies, and pediatricians everywhere can be a little more smug once again, repressing those feeling of guilt that had sneaked in after failing to diagnose so many children earlier than they did.
Here’s the thing… these studies must be done. Their results must be published.
How certain behavioral skills characteristic of individuals with (high-functioning) autism may make them more adept at particular occupations than the rest of us, and how some new companies and non-profits are providing training to foster the strengths of these individuals by providing specialized training with their unique minds in mind.
We never really doubted that inclusion is best… the real question is…
are the public schools equipped for inclusive education?
When our son’s Kindergarten teacher already has 23 children to not only maintain, but to guide, teach and grow… how can she be expected to fully serve my son?
It doesn’t matter how great of a teacher you are, that order is just too high…
When everyone knows it is best… why does my wife have to fight through blood, sweat and tears to get him the aid that he is entitled? (any aid… even one without ASD training)
Of course it’s about money… the scary thing is that with Autism rising and school funding on the decline the future looks very bleak for any possibility that the public schools will be able to meet the needs of their communities.
I guess it’s a good thing that I believe in prayer… because I don’t know what else to do from here on out.
Editorial Note: This original post was written in 2009, during Zev and Justin’s first appearance on The Amazing Race. I’m excited they’re back in 2011 and glad more people are discovering the same hope that I discuss in this article.
Individuals on the Autism Spectrum have never had a voice in the media.
Of course there’s Rain Man (everyone’s first reply when I say “my son has Autism”)…
And the occasional savant on 60 Minutes or something… (which of course results in everyone’s second reply “so is he super good at math or the piano or something?”)
And that is about it.
There’s never been occasion in media where a character with Autism was actually a person… you know what I mean?
That is why I consider this season’s Amazing Race to be groundbreaking…