Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.


Let's Be Friends...Maybe

PhotobucketBarnes & Noble, Inc. has announced that 500 stores across the country will host special "Storytimes" for "Autism Awareness Month." They are partnering with, of course, Autism Speaks. I plan on writing about the various activities, publicity, et al that will surely come along in the month of April. There will hopefully be some really good, positive events. Time will tell what message Autism Speaks and others will deliver. All I know is, watch out (!!), because 2008 will surely be the loudest year for "autism awareness" and the many forms it comes in.

The fact that Autism Speaks is involved here, I am skeptical. But, from the initial looks of this, I feel it could be a good thing. The books featured on the Barnes & Noble website include "The Game of My Life," "The Autism Acceptance Book," and "Look Me In The Eye." Granted, there are others that I'd prefer not be on the list, but at least a few good ones are there. I have been contemplating ordering this book on Amazon (that will be featured for these events), as it seems to have a positive message. One of my favorite books for children is "My Friend With Autism" by Beverly and Craig Bishop (parents of an autistic child). This was helpful not only to our older daughter, but to family and friends too. It explains the various features of autism, but in a positive manner, like how "my friend" has super hearing, etc.

I will try and locate a copy of "Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book, and write my review here. Here is some of the information from the press release:

On April 2, Barnes & Noble stores across the country will host celebrity Storytimes in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. Celebrities will read books that encourage compassion and respect for individuals with autism and other disabilities.

I hope that these story hours will really achieve that goal. Compassion and respect is what's needed most when it comes to how the public reacts to autism and autistic individuals. We have had enough years of fear and drama, let's move on already. Parents need positive support, encouragement (not stares!) from others when our child is having a meltdown in the store, and our schools need to think outside of the box to help our kids reach their potential. And, above all, we need to support adult autistics and their families. Autism Speaks is rolling in the dough, perhaps now they can focus on what autistic children and adults need more than anything: services and support, primarily in the teen and adult years.

"...Steve Riggio, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. "Our special Storytime events, in partnership with Autism Speaks, are a unique way in which we can help spread knowledge and promote understanding of this disorder, which affects so many children each year."

Again, I hope they are able to increase knowledge (in a non-stigmatizing way!) and increase understanding for the public and for the peers of autistic individuals.

...Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. "These in-store events will do a great deal to foster a sense of tolerance and understanding, something families affected by autism desperately need as they face the many day-to-day challenges posed by this disorder."

A sense of tolerance and understanding? Wow, did I miss something here? Is Autism Speaks no longer talking about kicking autism to the curb or throwing away this generation of children? Are they no longer celebrating Allison Tepper Singer's disgusting confession? I applaud them if they've actually turned over a new leaf. I'm not naive though, and the images from Autism Everyday are still very fresh in my mind. It would be wonderful to have an April that focuses on the many gifts and talents of autistic individuals, on the joy that is to be found in life with autism, and the need for (adult) services and acceptance.

**As usual, bold added by the author!!!


abfh said...

This really isn't a change of Autism Speaks' message at all. Suzanne Wright has made similar statements before. When she talks about more understanding for "families affected by autism," that's the same claim she made with Autism Every Day. She is still saying that autistic people are a huge burden to their families and that she wants society to understand the parents' misery, et cetera. There is nothing whatsoever in that message about tolerance and understanding for autistics themselves.

However, as you say, the book selection suggests that some people at Barnes & Noble may not fully grasp the underlying hatred in Autism Speaks' message and may actually be giving "tolerance and understanding" the meaning that it would have under ordinary circumstances.

leila said...

It's a great initiative. Too bad there will be no readings in my area. Well, at least for the first featured book.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the Autism Puzzle with the money in the piece? I like it and would like to add it to my blog.

We were at Toys R Us today and they have pictures of a child with the Autism puzzle at the cash registers. They must be raising money or something.

kristina said...

Autism Speaks does seem to have more and more of a monopoly on anything that is about "autism awareness"---last year it was toothpaste, for one thing.

S.L. said...

abfh: Great points!

leila: They are rolling out on April 2, with a total of 500 locations participating. Pretty much every B&N in my area is having one sometime in the month. So, one may be coming to eventually. I'm going to attend one & let you know how it goes.

marla: I was working on my blog entry when I saw your reply. Our trip there this weekend had me smirking over all of it. I made that puzzle. I will email the code to you. If your email is not on your blog, you can send me one: stopthinkautismATgmailDOTcom
Glad you like it!

kristina: They surely have a knack for marketing. Before too long, Autism Speaks stores? And speaking of their monopoly, they are taking over other autism organizations at a speed that would make any fortune 500 company proud.