screenshot2014-02-13at10-12-50pm-5496104

For Colin, on His Viral Eleventh Birthday

Shannon Des Roches Rosa  www.squidalicious.com By now you’ve probably heard of the Happy Birthday Colin effort, in which a socially isolated (though not autistic) boy’s mom created a Facebook page to cheer him up for his eleventh birthday — and the page went viral, with nearly 2 million Likes as of this writing. Colin’s mom writes: “I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends. He eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone…

ghana2baact2bautism2bschool2belementary2bclass-1031681

Educating Autistic Students in Ghana: AACT’s Success Story

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com The Autism Awareness, Care, and Training (AACT) school in Accra, Ghana reminds me of my own autistic son’s school here in California. Both are places of peace, calm, and competence—plus the occasional whoop, shout, or “eeeee”—while students and staff radiate not just positivity but confidence. This is because students are encouraged to learn to the best of their abilities, and are appreciated for exactly who they are. AACT is a remarkable place. [image: AACT staff and students seated around a table.] It is refreshing to find an autism school anywhere in the world that focuses on helping its students gain skills and work towards greater confidence in themselves, instead of trying to make autistic kids into non-autistic kids—destroying square pegs by pounding them into round holes (to paraphrase writer and autism parent, Paul Collins). It was a delight to visit AACT, meet and interact with…

Do Me a Favor

Christine Stephan daysixtyseven.blogspot.com I don’t like to advise people. I don’t like being in a position of telling others what to do. But I am a person of strong opinions. And just this once I’d like to tell you to do something. And by “you,” I especially mean those who love and support non-speaking autistic people of all ages. I want you to promise that when you find yourself explaining to someone that you have no idea what your loved one knows or understands that you will also quickly explain that you believe he understands everything and just hasn’t yet found a way to let the world know. When you observe your loved one behaving in a way that you don’t understand and he can’t explain, promise me that you will believe that he is trying the best he can and that he is as frustrated — probably more so…