Teen Helps Parents of Children with Autism

This amazing video was created by Michael Whary, an Ohio teen who is truly making a difference. Michael, who has autism, is working to become an Eagle Scout – and to do that, he needed to complete a service project that benefits the community. So he took the opportunity to create a video that aims to help parents of children with autism, sharing how autism doesn’t make him different, it makes him Michael.

And we can say we’re quite impressed! Also, speaking of achievements, not only is Michael working to become an Eagle Scout, he’s (as noted here), a member of his school’s track and field team, ROTC and marching band. (Keep in mind that Michael’s family was told that he would never ride a bike or drive a car – and you’ll see he can do both quite well!)

We invite you to check out Michael’s video!

Lynsey, Community Manager

 

ExtraSpecialTeas

Extra Special TeasThis is a very special time of year – with the significance of giving onto others being celebrated.

With that in mind, we are asking you to join us in a special event to support friends of KTH, Scott and Cherrie Sanes. Scott and Cherrie have an adult son with autism, and in thinking about their son’s future, they came up with a beautiful idea – create tea shops that employ adults with special needs. ExtraSpecialTeas will be a wonderful win-win for everyone!

To help Scott and Cherrie get their concept up-and-running, we are asking you to help us raise $5,000 by next Tuesday — #givingtuesday – December 23. And, KTH plans to match every dollar raised up to $5K, meaning we could give ExtraSpecialTeas $10,000 before the holidays!

So if we can count you in, donating is really easy – just click on this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/extraspecialteasHoliday/fundraiser/jeniferwestphal and donate! No donation is too small.

Please consider helping ExtraSpecialTeas raise the money they need to open this exciting tea house designed to employ adults with special needs.  To learn more about ExtraSpecialTeas and its mission, click here:  https://www.crowdrise.com/extraspecialteasHoliday/fundraiser/extraspecialteasinc

Thank you for your consideration.

Wishing you a joyous holiday season!

William’s Mail

William's Mail 2
Okay, everyone, here’s your chance to make a young boy’s Christmas…William Thomas is a twelve-year-old from Blaine, Washington. William, who is nonverbal but signs and writes his thoughts, usually crafted his Christmas list with things like art supplies, snacks and movies (check out this article).  But this year he asked for something different – mail.

Every day William takes a walk with his teacher to drop off mail, and he something he really enjoys doing. So knowing how happy mail made her son, William’s mom, Kay, made a simple request through Facebook to family and friends asking them to send William a card or letter to make his Christmas wish come true.

As Kay wrote on her page, I have been racking my brains for a couple weeks. I want to make this year special for this most special boy. He has nothing but love in him and I want him to feel the love from others. If you want to help a kind soul this year, I am asking for strangers to send him mail. I want him to know the world loves and values him in a way that he understands and feels.

Kay’s request went on to be shared by thousands and now William is getting mail from people all over the country, and even abroad. He’s so excited to get the mail that his mom lets him open a few a day (while leaving a bigger box to open on Christmas!).

If you’d like to write William a letter, check out William’s Mail facebook page for info.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Young Artist’s Works Are Big Sellers

Lately we have been talking about some extraordinary young people who have found a passion. Young Iris Grace is also one of them. Even at the young age of 5, she has discovered her talent for painting – and her work has already been sold to private art collectors all over the world.

Iris is only now starting to talk and painting was introduced as a way to help with speech therapy, joint attention and turn taking – and then her parents realized she had a gift for painting and could concentrate for about 2 hours each time she paints. Her artwork is so beautiful and all of the sales for her art go towards more art materials and ongoing therapies.

Iris Grace

Iris Grace

'Raining Cats'

‘Raining Cats’

We invite you to visit Iris’s website for more info.

Lynsey, Community Manager

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

 

 

Autism Breakthrough – The Son-Rise Program

Autism Breakthrough Audio
There are so many therapies out there for autism – it can be overwhelming, to say the least. And because autism is so wide-ranging in terms of severity, and, as the saying goes, ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,’ trying to find the right kind of therapy (or combination of therapies, in most cases) can be an endless…mind-numbing…(insert your own word here!)…journey.

You have to do what’s best, and what you think works, for your child, and that is the ultimate idea at Kyle’s Treehouse.  And as many of you may know, what worked for Kyle and the Westphal family was The Son-Rise Program. If you’re not familiar with the program, it was created in the 70’s by Barry Neil Kaufman and Samahria Lyte Kaufman to help their autistic son, Raun. It’s a home-based, parent-led structure that promotes encouragement and excitement and invites you to join your child in their world to ultimately create a bridge leading them back into ours. (From this experience the Kaufmans established The Autism Treatment Center of America, and their son, Raun–who went on to emerge from his autism–is now its Director of Global Education!)

And not only is Raun the Director of Global Education of the organization, he is also an author. Earlier this year he released, Autism Breakthrough, which is a more in-depth look at the program and why it works so well. And now it’s available as an audiobook. If you want to get a flavor for the book, you can actually listen to Chapter 2: “Joining: Entering Your Child’s World” for free – at this link http://www.autismbreakthrough.com/L/Chapter_2/.

It’s definitely worth checking out!

Lynsey, Community Manager