Autism Adulthood: Caring for the Future and the Present Moment

Part of this piece was written for a recent conference panel talk—that actually instead turned into pure Q&A—so the beginning, at least, starts off pretty formally with background. Like all my work involving him, my son Nicholas has read and approved this article, because he hopes his journey—and ours together—will help others. My son, Nicholas,…

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…

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,…

Ray Hemachandra

A new video … and thoughts about online identity and legacy

A new promotional video for Family Support Network of Western North Carolina and Mission Children’s Hospital featuring my friend Roxann Colwell, program manager of FSN, and myself just posted on YouTube. Ferriss Roberts, the communication coordinator for Mission Health in Asheville, N.C., created it from her interviews with Roxann and me. The little video is…

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…

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…

The Egg Chair

When my son Nicholas was one and a half he lost all his speech. He couldn’t even make coherent sounds. He was already speech-delayed, but he lost all the words he had gained. When he was three years old, he started in a preschool program for autistics in Bellingham, Washington, at Alderwood Elementary. Debbie Haney…