2-Minute Zipping for Autism 2018 Highlight Video!

I have served on the organizing committee for Zipping for Autism for three years. The annual event raises money—now about $230,000 in seven years—for autism programs in North Carolina. It takes place in Asheville, N.C., on the first Sunday in June. My son, Nicholas, has been one of the top fundraisers each of the past two…

Valuing Disabled Lives—and Remembering Lives Lost

The Day of Mourning, an event remembering and honoring disabled people murdered by family members or caregivers, is held on March 1. Local vigils take place across the United States, as well as in Australia and Canada. In Asheville, North Carolina, vigils have been held at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) for the past two…

Nicholas Hemachandra

Definition as Destiny: Breaking Autistic Boundaries

We define autism, clinically and socially. It’s a construct, clustering people with certain human characteristics together. Here’s what autism is. You are autistic. This is what you are. On the positive side, at least sometimes, this clustering fosters autistic identity and community. But too often it also separates autistics out from non-autistics and diminishes respect…

Backward, Forward, One, Two, Three

One One of the best experiences of my life was four decades ago at summer camp, Camp Killooleet, in Hancock, Vermont. I went for eight weeks each summer for five years. It was a magical place and time and the favorite part of my childhood. I cherish that camp and those people and those years,…

7 Values to Live By: Autism Across Schools and Classrooms

I had the chance to participate in Dr. Tiece Ruffin’s Education 379 course — focused on Special Education — at the University of North Carolina Asheville in December. Dr. Ruffin invited me to come to the last class of the semester. Some of the best and most impactful people I’ve known in my life have…

Women and Men and Autism: Love and Bathrooms

My son Nicholas, who is autistic, has never really differentiated between men and women. He’s not much of one for differentiation, anyway. So, for example, Mr., Miss, and Mrs. don’t come naturally to him. For most of his life, he has been as likely to get the honorific wrong as right. He was, and still…