Accept or Reject: Part 1 of a Talk on Autism

[This six-part series is adapted from a talk I gave at the Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness Conference at the University of North Carolina Asheville.] My son Nicholas is 14 and autistic. I’ll tell you just a little bit about him. When Nicholas was one and a half he lost speech and was nonverbal…

Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness

I’m very pleased to be presenting at the second annual Autism and the Pursuit of Happiness conference on Saturday, February 7, at the University of North Carolina–Asheville. I was at the conference as an attendee last year, and it was truly wonderful. The other speakers presenting at this year’s conference are an extraordinary, diverse group…

Autism 101: Hating Your Autistic Child

Full title and full disclosure: Autism 101: hating your autistic child … and teaching her or him self-loathing. Twice in the past week I’ve seen “I love my child, but I hate autism” posts by parents of autistics. One was written by a real-life friend I respect greatly, and one was by a Facebook friend…

Anti-Autism Prejudice: Media, Parents, and Damaged Children

My son, Nicholas, was featured on the cover of the major western North Carolina weekly — the Mountain Xpress — a couple of weeks ago and the cover is, without question, The Best Cover Ever. Featuring a photograph by Tim Robison and art design by Megan Kirby, it’s something to frame for Nicholas’ lifetime. Also,…

Autism Nation: Implications for a 1-in-68 Planet

Let’s begin here: Whether April is Autism Awareness Month or Autism Acceptance Month, I think the place where autism awareness and acceptance need first and foremost to be engaged is within the autism community. Does the autism community — people on the spectrum themselves, families, autism organizations — accept autism? If not, why would anyone…

Mountain Xpress article about Family Support Network

Hi everyone! New real blog post coming later this week, but I wanted to link to an article about Family Support Network in this week’s Mountain Xpress, an independent publication in Asheville and Western North Carolina. I’m included in the piece. I have several formal roles with FSN — trainer, support parent, chair of the…

On blackness and autism, identity and essence

Often I’m asked “What are you?” Racial and ethnic identity still inform so much in our culture. The question asked really is a question of identity. “What are you?” masks the underlying question, “Who are you?” When I was young I was black. My father, Neal Hemachandra, was black. His mother, Leathe Wade Colvert, was…