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…

Independence or Connection: Part 6 of a Talk on Autism

[This entry is the concluding post of a six-part series presenting my talk on autism delivered at the Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness conference at the University of North Carolina earlier this year. I invite you to read all the parts in the series — the entire talk. Please see the links at the bottom of…

You As Autism or Autism As You: Part 5 of a Talk on Autism

[This entry is Part 5 of a six-part series presenting my talk on autism delivered at the Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness conference at the University of North Carolina earlier this year. I invite you to read all the parts in the series — the entire talk. Please see the links at the bottom of…