Barnes & 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!!!