Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beyond Rain Man

Most people who don't know much about autism place it in 2 categories: Rain Man or Temple Grandin. But Rain Man is just a movie. And Temple Grandin – though certainly amazing and worthy of all accolades –  is just one person living with autism. Not every child diagnosed with autism will become a Temple Grandin. And that’s okay.  

There are so many every day success stories. Stories that get 5 minutes on the local news channel or shared through out Facebook. Stories that don't get made into movies, though their stories of commitment and perseverance are certainly movie worthy.  These are the stories that are changing the perception of autism.  So in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, I wanted to share a few.

Carly Fleischmann – Carly is a nonverbal teenage girl who has learned to communicate by typing.  Carly  has over 9,000 followers on Twitter.  She is definitely someone to follow @carlysvoice

Eric Duquette – the 18 year old who graduated HS – not only with honors but gave the commencement speech.  When first diagnosed, the doctors told his parents that he would end up in an institution.

Marken Suaza – a 10 year old Long Island boy who saved a classmate’s life by performing the Heimlich.  Marken blogs at Friends to Grow.  Marken appeared on Fox Five - the video may be viewed here.

Jason McElwain  - the high school basketball player who scored 20 points in 3 minutes.

Or my son – who when initially diagnosed at 2.5 years old had no language.  After three months of Early Intervention acquired 7 words.  By the time he aged out of E.I. – Norrin had hundreds of words.  Maybe thousands.  And here he is at 4.5 years old singing to his cousin.    

These are just 5 stories but there are thousands of boys and girls and men and women who are living with autism.  Autism does nothing to diminish their personalities, it enhances it.  Autism shapes who they are,  it creates the character of a group of individuals who are so often misunderstood.    

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.