Star Athlete

Runner
About 16 years ago, the parents of this young man, named Mike Brannigan, were given their son’s diagnosis of autism and told that he would likely need a special school and a group home. Based off this tough prognosis, his mom was concerned he wouldn’t be able to function in the world.

And now? Well, Mike, at 17 years old and a senior at Northport High School, is one of the best young athletes in the country with a couple hundred (…yes, COUPLE HUNDRED!) colleges knocking at his door!

As NBC News reported, Mike is one of the top 10 high school runners in the U.S. – able to run a mile in 4 minutes, 7 seconds. His mom credits running in helping Mike blossom and also his ability to focus on academics.

Mike’s dream is to continue running, becoming a professional athlete and one day being on the Olympic team. And with his talent, we are sure he’ll do just that – go Mike!

Check out this NBC segment for more on Mike.

Lynsey, Community 

Our Hero!

Comic
The list is long…Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk…just to name a few, but these guys have nothing on Michael! Created by Face Value Comics, Michael is a comic book character with autism—which is, according to the comic’s creators, a first. Michael is a hero with a mathematical mind, artistic gift and an abundance of compassion. And thanks in part to this NBC Nightly News segment, the first issue has sold out in stores!

Face Value explained (check out their blog) that they are trying something new and utilizing the comic book to show an autistic person dealing with everyday situations. They said:

Rather than simply labeling autism as a weakness or a mental disorder, we’re showing a person coping with it in realistic situations.  Of course, our futuristic steampunk universe isn’t exactly reality, but who could pass up the chance to write about crazy aliens or robots that are a mix of plants and metal?!  By removing the stories a bit from our daily lives, we’re allowing space for our readers to get involved in the characters and the story lines and absorb the messages, raising autism awareness and teaching readers to decode facial expressions.

The comic book characters are drawn with vivid facial expressions to help give readers tools to better understand subtle social cues.

There is a lot that has gone into the making of this comic book—and a lot to get out of it–but most of all, it can give readers someone to identify with—a hero who is trying to navigate an often confusing world and is overcoming obstacles all while learning along the way!

Lynsey, Community Manager

 

 

Some Perspective from Temple Grandin

T Grandin
Temple Grandin, famed animal scientist (as well as professor, advocate and author as just some of her other titles) was recently interviewed by Macrina Cooper-White from the Huffington Post on a wide-range of topics – from success of those with autism, to myths, advice, etc. Ms. Grandin is always full of wonderful insights and perspective – and some of that is excerpted here from their conversation:

On how extracurricular activities can be helpful:

For some kids, regular high school works out really well because the kids get into things — they get into art, or a school play. Then those places serve as refuges. I think one of the worst things schools have done is taken out all of the stuff like art, music, woodworking, sewing, cooking, welding, auto-shop. All these things you can turn into careers. How can you get interested in these careers if you don’t try them on a little bit?

On advice for parents of children with autism:

For these kids with autism, I’m seeing them getting too coddled. I’ll go to an autism convention and a ten year old comes up to speak to me, and the mom does all the talking. I want to hear what the kid has to say. And I’ll say ‘Okay, let’s practice shaking hands,’ and he doesn’t know how to shake hands. Well that’s totally ridiculous. The other thing that I really emphasize is teaching work skills. My mother got me a sewing job when I was thirteen, and I was cleaning horse stalls when I was fifteen…

On commonly held myths about autism:

One is that all people are savants like “Rain Man.” That maybe is only 10 percent of people with autism. That is a myth. Probably half of the people in Silicon Valley have a little bit of autism.

On what she thinks should be the next step for autism research:

For some of the things, you can find out exactly where there’s a problem in the brain. But then there’s a point –- you know, people talk about curing autism -– if you got rid of all those traits, who’s going to make the next computer?

To see Temple’s full interview, click here.

Lynsey, Community Manager