World Autism Awareness Month – To All Moms

I came across this beautiful piece many years ago.  This month is the perfect time to share it with all moms of children with autism.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley. c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

July 25, 2012 at 4:09pm

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

 

byEmily Perl Kingsley.

 

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

 

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

 

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

 

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” 

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” 

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. 

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. 

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. 

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. 

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” 

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. 

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland. 

 

“Welcome to Holland (Part 2)” by Emily Perl Kingsley

 

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time to catch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I’d planned.

 

I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland. I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger—the pain and uncertainty. In those first few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was to stay. Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learned so much more. But, this too has been a journey of time.

 

I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly found my way around this new land. I have met others whose plans had changed like mine, and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some have become very special friends. 

Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasoned guides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught me to open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land. I have discovered a community of caring. Holland wasn’t so bad. 

I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land of hospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in this new land. Over the years, I’ve wondered what life would have been like if I’d landed in Italy as planned. Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? Would I have learned some of the important lessons I hold today? 

Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stomp my feet and cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. I have learned to slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for the remarkable beauty of Holland with its’ tulips, windmills and Rembrandts. 

I have come to love Holland and call it Home. 

I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land. What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer. 

Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn’t planned. Yet I am thankful, for this destination has been richer than I could have imagined!

 

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TEMPLE GRANDIN – The Pinnacle of World Autism Awareness Day 2018

Temple Grandin Final CoverAs we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day this year, let us give honor to the pioneer who embarked on the path which evolved into millions trekking down the same road.  The person who wasn’t afraid to stand up and tell the world she has autism.  The person who didn’t let her diagnosis define her, but instead pursued her dreams and worked tirelessly to achieve them.  The person who exemplifies what an individual with autism can become.  TEMPLE GRANDIN.

Steve Silberman in his NYT Bestselling book Neurotribes wrote that Temple Grandin helped break down years of shame and stigma because she was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she was autistic.  In Temple’s book Thinking in Pictures, published in 1995, the late Oliver Sacks wrote at the end of his Foreword that the book provided ‘a bridge between our world and hers, and allows us to glimpse into a quiet other sort of mind.”  In the NYT Bestselling book In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, they describe Temple as explaining her inner world and how she champions the philosophy of neurodiversity.

In 2010 Temple was named in the TIME 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the “Heroes” category, dozens of other awards including most recently she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

In February 2010 the HBO film TEMPLE GRANDIN was released, skyrocketing Temple into a global phenomenon.  The film showcased how she revolutionized practices for the humane handling of livestock on cattle ranches and slaughterhouses, and her emergence into the autism world.

I am extremely fortunate to be a great friend of Temple.  I wanted the whole world to get to know her as I see her.  I spent over 60 hours conducting personal interviews with Temple and those closest to her to write the book Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends.  The book is a tribute to Temple Grandin, the most famous person in the world with autism, who has devoted her life to animal welfare and is the global leader of autism advocacy.

The book is available at https://www.amazon.com/Temple-Grandin-Stories-Tell-Friends/dp/1941765602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522338509&sr=8-1&keywords=anita+lesko

Educating All Healthcare Providers About Autism

Book Cover
Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Autism-Healthcare-Professionals/dp/1941765440/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522191589&sr=8-2&keywords=anita+lesko

I read yet another post on Facebook today written by an adult from the autism community, of her anger and frustration after a doctor’s appointment.  It was another case of defending her autism to a medical professional who knows little, if anything about autism.  She was treated as if she was a liar or delusional.  The comments which followed only echoed the same or similar experiences.  One after another, dozens of others on the spectrum knew exactly what she was talking about.  And parents of children on the spectrum joined in the thread with yet more of the same.

This is a worldwide problem.  Doctors, nurses, and all healthcare providers lacking knowledge of autism, how it truly affects the individual, and how to best communicate with this population.  In a survey of over 900 adult healthcare providers found that the vast majority reported that they lacked the adequate training to care for the Autism Spectrum Disorder population (Zerbo, Massolo, Qian & Croen, 2015).  That is only the tip of the iceberg.

I am autistic.  I’m also a medical professional with over 30 years’ experience.  I am working hard to bridge this gap between the two sides.  I combined my autism with my healthcare knowledge to write The Complete Guide to Autism & Healthcare.  I’m on a global mission to enable all healthcare providers the tools necessary to best care for all on the autism spectrum.

Time is of the essence.  This cannot wait another second.  Just the same way healthcare providers must know about diabetes, high blood pressure, and endless other conditions, so too must they possess knowledge about autism.  With 1 in every 68 children being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and millions of autistic adults, this unique population deserves quality care like everyone else.  Without this knowledge, those on the autism spectrum may suffer serious illness, and yes, even death.  We are begging for your support.

Visit me at http://www.anitalesko.com

 

 

World Autism Awareness Day 2018

I had the distinct honor of speaking at the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day 2017.  I talked about how individuals with autism can have fulfilling and productive lives.  Now I’m addressing the rest of the world to step up and help enable the population of autistic individuals to reach these real human needs.

Living with autism isn’t easy no matter where a person is on the autism spectrum.  There are sensory issues, social challenges, physical challenges, and more.   We all work hard at overcoming the endless obstacles we face on a daily basis.  Only we know how difficult these challenges can be.  Those in our lives also know, and the professionals who choose to work with individuals on the spectrum.  No matter how hard we all work to overcome these challenges, there still remains one that we have yet to seize.  Acceptance.  This is the key which is necessary to unlock the door to the world for all with autism.  We are all working tirelessly to gain the acceptance every human being desires.  A new friend on Facebook, Glenda, who has a daughter on the spectrum, said it well, “we are a force and we are in it to win it!”  How true it is.  No matter how many times we fall we get up and keep going.  But we need help.  We need the world to open their minds and their hearts to extend a hand to help their fellow humans.

“We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in your hands to make a difference.”  Nelson Mandela

I found the following quote that I instantly knew was written from the heart.

“Acceptance is what we wish for ourselves and often deny others.”  Susan L. Taylor

Read those words out loud to yourself.  Think about this.  You know that YOU want to be accepted.  Ask yourself, why would you deny acceptance to another human being who was born different than yourself?  They had nothing to do with this difference.  They have the same needs and desires as you do.  It doesn’t show on the surface, but have you heard the saying “still water runs deep?”

Following the words of the great leader Nelson Mandela are thousands, tens of thousands of people striving to educate the world about autism.  It is my hope that the knowledge shared will be heard and transformed into acceptance.  Allow us into this world to experience life as you do.  Allow individuals with autism to get jobs they are seeking, with the skills to perform well.  When you see someone who’s different than yourself, smile at them.  Don’t judge them.  Give them a chance.  Don’t underestimate them.  They have gifts to offer just like you do, only different.  Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation.

Let 2018 be the year ACCEPTANCE becomes a way of life.  The world will be a much better place for everyone.

To hear my United Nations presentation on World Autism Awareness Day 2017 visit my website at www.anitalesko.com

Please help take this message around the world and SHARE it.

nelsonmandela1

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I will always remember the moment I walked into the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and saw my name all lit up as you see here. It was very thrilling. I also realized my message would be heard around the world.