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Samuel Rising

  • Posted on March 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I’ve just finished watching Roswell for the first time. The episode “Samuel Rising” stood out to me as a testament of the integrity of the show. Roswell is the story of three human/alien hybrids who are trying to live their teenage human lives while finding out why they were created and sent to earth by their alien parents; it is also an exploration of what it really means to be human. These human/alien hybrids have diverse gifts and one of Max’s gifts is the ability to heal. An on-going conflict in the show is how Max should use his gifts: merely to hide the truth of his identity or to help others in need?

Earlier in the series, Max conceived a son who taken from earth before birth and is now trying to contact him. When Samuel, a child with autism, comes up to him in a restaurant and says, “Daddy,” Max believes his son is using Samuel as a conduit to contact him. After a failed attempt to achieve mutual communication, Max’s human girlfriend suggests that maybe Samuel talked to Max for Samuel’s sake, not for Max’s.

In an effort to help Samuel for his own sake, Max sneaks into Samuel’s house late at night and tries to heal him. Afterwards, he expects Samuel to talk to him, but he doesn’t. Frustrated, Max returns to his girlfriend at a loss. This is what happens next:

She says, “So, what happened?”

“It didn’t work,” he says. “I couldn’t heal him.”

“Well, maybe he didn’t need to be healed. You heal people who are sick or hurt, but Samuel isn’t sick or hurt. He’s just different.”

After some thought, Max says, “Maybe I was trying to heal the wrong person.”

The next thing Max does is have his sister, who can walk in people’s dreams, try to bring his parents into it Samuel’s dream. Samuel’s dream proves he does know what Christmas despite his father’s earlier assertion that he didn’t (represented as a tree, train, presents, and love). When the dream-version of his parents arrive in his dream (versus the “real” ones watching) he says, “I love you, Mommy. I love you, Daddy,” just as he would do if he could use words outside his own head.

When they wake, Samuel’s daddy calls his (ex-)wife and asks to come over. Samuel gets to live a part of his dream and he gets his daddy back.

I’ve watched many television shows that include an episode on autism or another disability. Most are disappointments. A few come close to getting it right. I’m glad to find one that really, truly gets it right.

Autism and Legos

  • Posted on February 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Legos, autism, and growing awareness: Check it out!

A Call for Support

  • Posted on October 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM

So, I’m writing a book. It’s become my big to-do project. But I also have to write to support my family. Every hour I spend on my book takes away time I can write to support my family. So, I’m raising money to offset the difference.

But that’s just my immediate motivation. There’s a whole ‘nother dimension to this fundraising business that I want to talk about.

In my community, we have a big fancy library that is full of books and movies and CDs and CD-ROMs and books on tape and all sorts of good stuff. Nothing wrong with that! But, when the boys were first diagnosed with autism, there was very little “good” stuff on autism in that library. Last time I checked, there’s still not. It’s not that they didn’t have any books on autism, but they were all skewed away from anything remotely pro-neurodiversity. I typed “neurodiversity” into the computerized card catalog and it just laughed at me. Actually, it tried to redirect me to something that didn’t even start with “neuro.” If I remember correctly, it was “necromancy.” Sound like fun?

Sometime after that, it was Autism Awareness Month and the boys’ school had set out a selection of books about autism that were available through the Family Resource Center. Jenny McCarthy’s latest book (I didn’t bother to look at the title) was prominently displayed. Nothing remotely pro-neurodiversity was available.

I’ve looked at various collections available in my community since then. I’ve read some books that I found intolerable, others that I found misguided, still others that I’ve found merely unhelpful. All the books that I have found useful and appropriately respectful of the subject matter have been books I’ve had to buy for myself.

So, here’s my plan: I’m going to donate copies of my books to as many of the places I looked for loaners as I possibly can. I’m going to assume the full cost of donating in my own community, but I’m asking for your help donating books to other communities. I’m targeting public libraries, Family Resource Centers (both in the community and in the schools), and any similar lending library families use to learn about autism. It’ll take time for me to hit them all, of course, and I’m not even sure I could locate them all. But I’ve got to start somewhere.

I’ve already pledged that any donation of $250 or more will earn a donation of five books. I’ve also pledged that any donation of $500 or more will earn a donation of ten books. I already have one donation of $500, for a total of ten books.

Here’s a new pledge: If I reach my half-way mark of $1,250 by November 15th, I will use a portion of the funds raised to donate a total of 25 books, plus any donations earned by single donations.

To reach this goal, I need your help. If you’re considering donating, then please donate before November 15th. If you can’t donate, but want to show your support, please press the “share” and the “like” and the “tweet” buttons on the link provided. Please leave comments. Please like comments. Please help raise the awareness level of this campaign and encourage others who can afford to do so to donate.

Thank you! Together, book by book and dollar by dollar, we can ensure that people who are looking for information on autism can find information that helps them to empower the people with autism in their lives!

Unaware

  • Posted on May 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Apparently, it’s Mental Health Awareness month.  Don’t you feel more aware and stuff now that you know that?  I certainly do, or, um, well, not.  See, I’m not a big fan of awareness months.  It started with my first taste of Black History Month.  I don’t remember what grade I was in when I noticed the libraries featuring books in celebration of Black History, but I do remember thinking:  “So, what, they don’t have a history the other eleven months?”  And, sadly, according to the education I received (totally public, if you have doubts), that’s pretty much true, too.  It’s like, prior to the Civil War, there was no black history and between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement there wasn’t any either.  Now, one could assume that people with black skin didn’t do anything important in the intervening time—and I suspect some people have/do assume just that—but, that’s really just ignorant.  And so, I have to wonder, does a Black History month really change the prejudice and bias of the eleven other months?  No, not really.  So what, exactly, does it accomplish?

And, while I’m asking, what is the purpose of a Mental Health Awareness month?  It seems to me, whether the special month is set aside for autism, mental health, or black history, the purpose is to highlight how much the mass audience really doesn’t care.  Okay, so, yes, they care enough to give us a month.  Whoop-tee-doo.  And so, what, it just goes away the other eleven months out of the year?  For them, maybe.

Actually, for some people, that’s exactly it.  Some people have the luxury of being unaware of mental health 100% of the year, so—to make themselves feel like they care—they take a month out of their otherwise blissfully unaware lives and…what?  Raise money?  Talk about mental health?  Something?

Now, I’m sure some of you are going to say that I have it all wrong.  This is a month where people with mental health challenges raise awareness among those unsuspecting healthy minds and build acceptance and understanding.  Sure, well, maybe that’s the point, but it’s May 23 and I heard about this awareness month on the 20th.  In other words, though I have mental health challenges and am married to a man with mental health challenges, I was blissfully unaware of this month for 2/3rds of said month.  So, if the job is to actually raise awareness, mission totally not accomplished.

Maybe it’s just that May follows so closely after April, but I’m tired of awareness campaigns that are here and gone, accomplishing no real awareness in the meantime.  I’m tired of the “Oh, but we didn’t knows” that fail to disguise the real message of “Oh, but we don’t really care.”

Mental health, autism, black history, and all the rest…they’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  If we, as a society, could really admit that to ourselves, then we wouldn’t need to set aside a month for any of them.  I’d rather be unaware of the month and be aware of reality, but maybe that’s just me.