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…

The Autistic Spectacle

My son Nicholas is 13, and he juggles balls and rings. Sometimes we talk about him becoming an entertainer or even joining the circus when he gets older. (The younger brother of one of his good friends recently got a unicycle. I’m dreading the likely outcome here.) But when Nicholas was younger he was much…

Roads Not Taken: Lessons in Autism, Inclusion, and Life

Most of us tend to interpret the world in ways that validate the choices we’ve made and confirm our rightness. People on differing sides of an issue — or an idea — will often interpret the same event, the same circumstances, or the same fact through the prism of their pre-existing opinions and thus draw…

Ray and Nicholas Hemachandra

Top 10 List: Things to Remember When Working with Autistic and Other Disabled Children

I recently did a recorded presentation for an online class at Western Carolina University–Biltmore Campus for students working to become special-ed teachers, counselors, and therapists. I’ve done a good number of such talks, usually in person, over the years at TEACCH, UNC–Asheville, Blue Ridge Community College, Western Carolina University, local medical groups, autism camps like…