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By Brenda Kosky-Deskin

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People I Admire Who Have Autism

June 25, 2012   Comments (0)

Advocacy & Awareness Advocacy Initiatives & Resources Everyday Life General Interest



One of the things I like best about editing is scouring the Internet on a daily basis and bringing to light information and resources that I feel are worthy of sharing with my readers. Last week's pursuits, however, led me to two articles that greatly distressed me and compelled me to write this blog.

On June 20th, Christina Hughes' report BBC's Sherlock, Asperger's and  Syndrome and Sociopathy illustrated that while it is becoming more commonplace to see adults with Autism featured on TV shows and in other media, these portrayals of how Autism is depicted are more often than not, highly inaccurate. The lines between "sociopathic" and "autistic" have been blurred, explained Hughes, leaving the public to erroneously believe that individuals on the Autism Spectrum are uncaring and have a compromised sense of morality.

On that very same day, The Thinking Person's Guide To Autism published an insightful blog authored by Lydia Brown, an eighteen-year-old student attending Georgetown University who herself happens to have Autism. In her weblog, Brown pointed out how the media has continued to emphasize the declaration of a psychiatrist in the trial of Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik, that the terrorist has Asperger's Syndrome.

Brown's observations are disturbing, to say the least. She states, "The media has continually and repeatedly conflated being Autistic with a propensity toward violent or criminal behavior. The fallacious and damaging assumptions still widely held today that Autistics lack empathy, do not recognize that other people have minds, and are incapable of expressing emotions -- especially concern for others -- make it very easy for the uninformed journalist to hear "autism spectrum disorder" in reference to a criminal defendant and jump to the unfortunate conclusion that serial killers, murderers, rapists, and terrorists must be Autistic because of their apparent lack of empathy for others or any other traits that fit neatly onto a checklist of Stereotypes about Autistics."

Well, it's time to set the record straight. And what better way to do so than to tell you about seven individuals on the Autism Spectrum who have made this world a better place...

Dani Bowman

Dani is a delightful young woman.  This 17-year-old entrepreneur is the owner of Powerlight Studios, a company she founded at the age of 11 that specializes in animation, illustration and voicework. While maintaining a straight-A average in school, Dani still finds time to educate the world about Autism, speaking frequently at engagements across the US and Canada. Dani is extremely generous with her time and talent, teaching animation to kids on the Autism Spectrum in partnership with Joey Travolta's Inclusion Films. Dani's motto is "change the world" and she certainly leads by example!










Eric Colflesh

After hearing about the movie "Bully", 11-year-old Eric was intrigued. A victim of bullying himself, he wanted to see the film, but quickly discovered that he couldn't as it was rated "R". This young man with Autism decided that he was not going to stand idly by. With help from his mother, Eric joined a social media movement that collected over 500,000 signatures petitioning for the movie's rating to be changed. Eric's persistence and hard work paid off. In April, the Motion Picture Association of America removed its Restricted rating, thereby allowing Eric and a larger and younger audience to be exposed to the harsh realities of bullying that are conveyed in the movie. Eric's plans for the future include making his own documentary about bullying. States Eric, "Don't let go of your goal in life. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."

Michael Deskin

Am I biased? You bet! But how could I not be bursting with pride at everything my wonderful Michael has accomplished over the years? Skills that come naturally to so many of us – from something as simple as pointing to a desired object, to pouring a glass of juice – Michael has had to expend a great deal of time and effort to learn. There was a time when we thought Michael would never speak, but at the age of 17 he has an impressive vocabulary and his rate of acquisition of new words continues to improve with the help of family members and his dedicated therapist. I don't believe Michael's life is an easy one at times, as he must contend with self-injurious behaviors that we still struggle to understand and treat, live with the torments of OCD, and deal with the frustrations of not understanding why he simply cannot do certain things he wants to do at the spur of the moment like visit every Rainforest Cafe in the world or meet the late Maurice Sendak's cartoon character "Little Bear" in person. Despite his challenges, Michael manages for the most part, to keep a smile on his face and be the sweet, cuddly guy that we all love and adore.

David Finch

Husband, father, and author, David Finch is not only helping countless couples make their marriages work, but is proving to the world that individuals who like himself, have Autism, can be in happy relationships based on trust, respect and empathy. In his new book, The Journal of Best Practices, David recounts his journey of self-improvement. States David in an interview featured on, "I realize, the more I talk to people, how relatable our situation is. Everybody could benefit from learning how to manage themselves better in any relationship. The Asperger's thing informed the book, but really it's not a story about Asperger's; it's a story about marriage. I wanted to write something to give people hope. If you're sitting there feeling unhappy and stuck, there's probably a reason and you can get to the bottom of it."

Carly Fleischmann

With 36,869 Likes on her Facebook Page  and 24,389 people following her on Twitter at last check, Carly Fleischmann has raised Autism awareness and understanding to an entirely new level. Carly's Voice, a book she co-authored with her father, has touched the lives of many with her insightful first-hand descriptions of what it is like to be on the Autism Spectrum. Not only has she educated the general public about Autism, but she has given hope to and opened the minds of parents and family members who have loved ones on the Autism Spectrum. States Holly Robinson Peete, actress, author and Autism Advocate, "I have learned more from Carly about autism than any doctor or 'expert,' and she has helped me understand and connect with my son in ways I couldn't have imagined. Her book takes the autism conversation to new places and disproves the ridiculous notion that non-verbal people with autism don't have feelings and thoughts or are unintelligent. Carly is–for me–autism's fiercest and most valuable advocate."

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin personifies caring, empathy and kindness. An ardent animal welfare advocate, her visionary work as a scientist designing humane livestock systems has set precedents worldwide. As an Autism advocate, her accomplishments are equally impressive. She has authored eight books and has shared her Autism-related experiences and words of wisdom with countless individuals who come to hear and meet this pioneer, celebrity and industry leader. So fascinating is her story, that a major motion picture was recently made of her life.

John Elder Robinson

I am especially fond of John Elder Robinson's Facebook posts. Some are wry and witty, while others are simple and beautiful like his close-up photo of some brickwork on a Philadelphia street. His story is a fascinating one. From designing special effects guitars for the rock group Kiss, to repairing high-end automobiles, his career path has been eclectic to say the least. Now a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and Autism advocate, John shares his stories and insights as an individual with Asperger's Syndrome to a loyal international following.


June 25, 2012   Comments (0)

Advocacy & Awareness Advocacy Initiatives & Resources Everyday Life General Interest

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