Everyday Lives of Extraordinary People 6

 

In 2003/04 Lindsay presented a radio show called "Disability with Attitude" in Ballarat, Australia. Two days each week, from 12 noon to 2pm, a mixture of music and interviews with the people who manged programs for people with disabilties, those in charge of particular activities for those with a disability and, of course, those with disabilties themselves discussing what life was like for them. As far as he knew, it was the only regularly-scheduled radio program in the world with an autistic host. Well, two autistic hosts. Once a month Matthew Crick, pictured below, who was eight at the time, sacrificed his lunchtime to co-present with him. The first time he did this his teacher had his class listen and he was given a round of applause when he got back to school. The great thing about having articulate autism spectrum kids speak about themselves is that they can tell you what it's like to live an autistic life as a child while they're still experiencing it.

8yo Matthew Crick co-presenting, July 2004. Picture: Lindsay
   
10yo Matthew Crick at the Ballarat Autistic Art exhibition, 20 May 2006. Picture: Lindsay

The picture above is a recent one taken at the Ballarat Autistic Art exhibition where Matthew had a work exhibited. He was feeling pretty good because on the night before, he played lead violin in a chamber orchestra as well as a couple of solo pieces. He's also quite accomplished as a Scottish fiddler. Matthew goes to a school with an excellent reputation for teaching kids on the autism spectrum and of course has parents who expect his disability to be a fairly negligible component of his adult life. Matthew's had the best early intervention and education that Australian society can provide and there's no reason not to think that eventually he'll be indistinguishable from normal. (Which is not to say that he will be normal, he won't be at all. But it will be very hard for most people to see this.)

   
  Rebel, Jordan and Josh have completed a course in leadership skills. Picture: Lindsay

If you've been brave enough to read right through here you'll have seen plenty of pictures of Jordan (now 17, autism and ADHD) and Josh (now 15, autism and Landau - Kleffner syndrome). Rebel (22, mild intellectual disability) is making her Picture Page debut. These siblings and the rest of their family have never taken the view that disabilty prevents participation in society, although it can often mean taking a more circuitous route to their goals.

Whenever one of the Robottom kids takes part in an activity, he or she is usually in the forefront. So if they're going to be leaders, it makes sense to give them the appropriate skills. Lindsay took the picture above at their presentation night, after they'd completed an intensive twelve - week course.

   
  Eli Stone at the microphone in December 2004

After seeing the picture of Matthew Crick, Katie Stone in Albuquerque told Lindsay that she presented a radio program on KUNM called The Childrens' Radio Hour and that her autistic son Eli had been participating since the age of three. At the time of writing this, he's in third grade. The program is not for autistic children, nor even for those with a disability. Instead, it presents high-quality material of general interest and as such can be very informative, even for adults. The research and presentation is often done by children, of which Eli is one. Eli is considered to be exceptional both because of his autism and high IQ.

  Peter in May 2006. Picture: Aske Edlund

Peter Edlund lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. His interests are in mathematics and the propagation of waves through the earth's atmosphere, which is a much larger field that it might at first appear to be. He has developed global contacts with others his own age with his own attributes, two of which are autism and intellectual giftedness. He is one of the four people who update this website and is fluent in Russian, German and English. He doesn't have good skills at communicating with the neurotypical so is tailor-made for a job in IT. However, he wants to work with autistic children and already helps out at an autism centre near his home. We think Peter's choice is a very good one; he'd be well suited to working with kids at the high end of the spectrum who are coping with the whole range of issues commonly lumped together as depression and who have attempted (or feel that they might attempt) suicide.

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