Autism at the Theatre: On The Spectrum

The Fountain Theatre bills “On the Spectrum” by Ken LaZebnik  as “not your (neuro)typical love story”…. and it certainly isn’t.   It’s more than that…. it’s about a modern-day Romeo and Juliet in love… who both just happen to have autism.    (Of course, during  Shakespeare’s era,  he would have a hard time writing “Romeo and Juliet” with lead autistic characters.   The young lovers would have been institutionalized for having autism or left on the side of the cobblestone streets to beg  for food or money).

“On the Spectrum” is ripe with intensity, complexity, depth and passion, sprinkled with ingenious light-hearted humor.   For instance, Mac (the lead character with Asperger’s Syndrome) prepares to ride the New York Subway to meet for the first time his new boss Iris, who is also  on the spectrum and has trouble communicating verbally (most of the time, she has to use an augmentative communication device with a recorded voice).

Dan Shaked & Virginia Newcomb -- Dan Shaked & Virginia Newcomb - photo by Ed Krieger
Dan Shaked & Virginia Newcomb
                                                                                  –photo by Ed Krieger

His mother Elizabeth is concerned that Iris might do something harmful to him or take advantage of him as Mac is about to walk out the door.   Mac responds sarcastically to his mother saying do you actually think she lures  young men to her apartment by telling them she has autism???   When he arrives at Iris’s apartment, it’s a total mess – he seriously asks her, “Do you have a fear of laundry?” and starts folding her clothes, which she quickly tosses haphazardly back on the couch.  Apparently, she likes to be in control, and her mess helps define her world.

Mac (Dan Shaked) lives with his stressed-out, unemployed, photo editor mother Elizabeth (Jeanie Hackett) in a cramped, West Village, New York apartment.   Although Elizabeth is not autistic like her son, she holds onto the world of her past by hanging a multitude of yak bells from the ceiling she had gotten in Nepal much to the dismay of Mac.  She tells her son that the yak bells remind her of the “best time in her life.”  Even though scientists tell us that people with Asperger’s aren’t supposed to get emotional, Mac feels the sting of his mother’s statement.   Aspies are, after all, human beings too.

“On the Spectrum” is ripe with intensity, complexity, depth and passion…

Even though he has plans to go to law school, Mac finds a job on Craigslist as a computer graphics designer to upgrade the website, “The Other World,” which was created by Iris (Virginia Newcomb).  Ironically, “The Other World” is Iris’s real world, and she rarely leaves her apartment.  At the beginning, Iris and Mac haven’t met in person, and only communicate online (their text was was brilliantly displayed in the background of the set).  When Mac goes to Iris’s apartment to get the money that is owed him and meets her in person for the first time, the young couple fall in love (having gotten to know each other through cyberspace).   While Mac has Asperger’s which causes him to see life in more literal terms, Iris is locked in a world of fantasy spawned by autism.  For instance she refers to her apartment in Queens as her “Crystal Palace” and wears a princess costume.  Mac is her only hope to get her feet on the ground, and he is more than willing to oblige.

According to LaZebnik, “The story is centered around love and finding a place to belong.  Based on my own experiences of family members on the autism spectrum, I wanted to explore the issues confronting young adults with autism.  I am so pleased to be able to bring more awareness to the Los Angeles community.” (The Help Group Newsletter, Spring 2013).

Winner of a 2012 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award citation and a 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play award, “On the Spectrum” shines a powerful light on the obstacles and the successes of people with autism.

OTS5_crop
Jeanie Hackett
      & Dan Shaked
   photo: Ed Krieger

The acting is flawless and realistic; the story is heartfelt; the dialogue is perfect and the scene design is incomparable.   You cannot miss this charming theatrical experience.  Get your tickets now at the Fountain Theatre before it ends April 28, 2013.  You’ll regret it if you miss it.

The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue in Hollywood, California.  Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm through April 28th.  For reservations and information, call 323-663-1525 or visit the theatre’s website at www.FountainTheatre.com. (Not Recommended for Young Children).


Debra Clark is anchor of the upcoming Autism World News

Competing Against Ourselves

In a perfect world, teaching compassion in school would be a high cultural priority and people with disabilities would be valued for what they can contribute to the group. They would not be shunned or set aside. But, I think in our culture, at least in school, teaching competition is more highly valued. And leaving out the kid who is different is, well, it’s just what people do to “get ahead” or win.

When I was little, I had an underlying immune problem which, it seems, was part of what was causing my autism. My mom and dad and I took many trips from Northern to Southern California, soccer-team027_2so that I could get my doctor-prescribed IVIG infusions which helped to shift my core health in a positive direction. As I got healthier, I was more able to communicate, learn, and relate.

I missed a lot of school back then. And forming friendships was particularly challenging. That year, I was in an inclusion setting in school. I had started to practice soccer with my first grade classmates after school on a “team” that was loosely formed by the dads. A couple of the boys were already awesome athletes. But, the majority of us were just six-year-old boys running around on a field. Even though I am not naturally drawn to team sports, I loved being out there, kicking the ball. And, sometimes, I kicked it in the wrong direction. Oh, well….

One kid just sat down in the field. Our nickname for him was Ferdinand the Bull, because in the cartoon about Ferdinand the Bull, all Ferdinand wanted to do was to sit in the field and smell the flowers. This boy’s dad was one of the team’s coaches. But, his dad just let his son do his thing. The team seemed to play okay, even if this boy sat it out…in the middle of the field.

One of the times I was off at IVIG (which was every six weeks and which was usually a three-day trip), everything changed. In order to use the field, the City informed the dad-coaches that they had to file papers with the City and formalize the team. They left my name off the team list. When I got back, they told my parents it was “too late” to add me. I couldn’t play or practice soccer with them anymore after school. It didn’t have to do with my ability to kick a ball or run or even about any lack of desire to be part of the group. I wanted to be there. These were my classmates and I was the only one not on the team. “Ferdinand” was included on the team; he didn’t even want to be part of it.

This was the first time I became aware of this kind of dismissive behavior towards children like me.
I felt sad.

This was the first time I became aware of this kind of dismissive behavior towards children like me. I felt sad. I don’t know why they didn’t think it would affect me. Of course, it did. My parents quickly sought out other activities for me for after school, so that I wouldn’t notice. But I did notice, especially when we drove by the field. My mom stopped driving by the field.

Now, I’m older. Because of my experience, my tendency is to welcome and include others. It makes me happy to hear that people like The Rocket Family Chronicles because any show is a team effort and I’m part of this team. I sometimes am the Production Assistant, moving boxes, setting up the camera and the lights. Sometimes, I’m a Cameraman; I’ve shot parts of the episodes. Mostly, of course, I’m acting in front of the camera which I love and is thrilling for me. But, more than this, I love knowing that what I’m doing is inspiring others kids on the Spectrum to know that they can one day be valued members of a team, too.


Sam Rubin plays Rocket on The Rocket Family Chronicles on The Autism Channel.

The Autism Bookshelf: Finding Your Own Way to Grieve

A lot of people I know grew up with grandparents who were almost abstractions. No longer needing to avail themselves of job opportunities and leafy suburbs in chilly Chicagoland, they retired to Phoenix or Tampa-St. Petersburg and left their grown children back home. Sometimes their families would visit them, usually in March so they could twin the trip with a spring training game, but living a thousand miles apart, it was difficult for their grandchildren to bond with them.

How lucky I was, then, to have spent a great deal of time with my maternal grandparents, who ran radio stations in Chicago and Autism Bookshelf: Finding Own Way To GrieveMilwaukee, always too engaged in their work and their family to scuttle off to a condo in Boca Raton. Living just down the road, theirs was my home away from home. It was on their watch that some of my gifts started to show themselves: my reading and memorization at such an early age almost became a parlor trick. “What would he like?”, the waitress would ask my grandpa, motioning to the toddler with bread crumbs on his face. “Ask him,” he’d reply, and I would do just that, politely reading my choice from the menu. (It was usually just chicken tenders. I wasn’t a very adventurous diner yet.) I’d complete the evening’s entertainment by reading the names of the credit cards in his wallet, as if I even knew what revolving credit was or how it worked. I still might not.

It was with their keen eye and their generosity that for the first three years of my education, I was fortunate enough to attend a school for gifted children. I hadn’t been diagnosed as being on the spectrum yet, and I have a feeling that some of my eccentric classmates would later encounter the same discovery that I did. Still, we flourished there, under well-meaning teachers and administrators who I’ve come to suspect knew more about Asperger’s syndrome than most people did — perhaps more than they knew they knew. The local public school district fell short of diligent upkeep on the disused grade school building we occupied, and elected to raze it, evicting us.

Grieving is hard enough for anyone… As is so often the case, these concerns are magnified for a person on the autism spectrum.

Though I couldn’t continue there, my grandparents continued to make sure I had outlets for learning and creativity beyond what the average child enjoyed. When my grandfather bought another radio station in Wisconsin, my family moved up to help him run it, and I was allowed to learn radio hands-on, running around the studios after hours, doing mock radio shows with myself and my imaginary sidekicks. I still have the airchecks somewhere. I am never going to play them back.

Continue reading Finding Your Own Way to Grieve…

Fix It in Five

FIX IT IN FIVE  is my brainchild because I work with brains. Let me explain:

For the past ten years I have been invited into homes around the globe. I’ve watched people change and grow healthy with only a few days of time, attention and education. My techniques include play therapy and family dynamics counseling, but I also use neurofeedback. So when I educate and rearrange the behaviors in a home, I do it all the way down to the neuronal behavior of the individual. Yes… I have an edge. And that edge was driving me nuts!

I am a mom of special needs adopted children and neurotypical (sort of) biological children and I know from experience what a God-Send a visitor like me and my brain computer would have been in the early years of raising my kids. And so my need to show the world what is possible grew virtually uncontainable.

Three of my four autistic sons grew into lives of independence. One did not. The one who did not sat through a two hour play– in the front row!—yesterday and he was awesome! At least he was awesome until the play ended and a traditionally educated special-ed teacher came over to talk to him and, with a smile and some kind words, proceeded to treat him like an unpredictable baby about to explode. He complied. And I remembered why I am making Fix It in Five!

My specialty is autism. Autism is on the rise. Autism is grossly mishandled and under-appreciated.

There are culture, language and poverty issues, and sometimes the poverty is mine.

So what is Fix It in Five?  It is me, Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad, literally putting my money where my mouth is. I am inviting cameras (and hopefully an audience!) to watch me work with families all over the world. I am proving that the bar is too low and more can be, should be, and will be done for people suffering a mental challenge.

In each home I go into there is always a little autism and a little something else (like seizures or Tourettes). There are culture, language and poverty issues, and sometimes the poverty is mine.

I decided to do this with ten thousand (long gone) dollars. People have excitedly stepped forward offering help in a variety of ways, and we have ten episodes to edit highlighting two families so far. The first is in Uganda, the second San Francisco. In the first show my big brain (a fantastic prop the kids love that helps me literally point to problem areas) was crushed, and in the second I lost a tooth. In both we made a life changing difference. If you want to understand and experience the action and lessons inherent in the happenings of those two sentences, tune into episode one. Begin the journey with me as I attempt to FIX IT IN FIVE! We’re not always certain what ‘it’ might be, but there’s much to be gained and learned while it reveals itself!

Autism is not a life sentence, it is a life!


Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad is the producer and star
of Fix It in Five, exclusively on The Autism Channel

Go With the Flow

When The Autism Channel asked us to create some one-minute pieces for Autism Awareness month, we thought it would be good for Sam (Rocket) to tell one on himself. Sam has always had supersonic ears. But we soon learned that sensitive hearing does not equate to listening. Part of what distracted him was that he was hearing his own heartbeat, the sound of ventilation systems, the sounds of ticking clocks—things you and I would normally filter into the background of our conscious awareness. Sounds like these were as front and center to him as human speech directed at him. He simply was unable to filter any sound from the Surround Sound™ of life.

…his attention to the world of sound…
“the music of the world around him.”

He was steeped in his autistic world and we were trying to reach him. We could see that he was distracted by sounds it seemed we simply couldn’t hear. As his parents, we felt we could find a path to relating to him by following his attention to sound, what he now calls “the music of the world around him.”

Sam Rubin As Child
Sam Rubin reacting to sounds at 3 years 9 months

This lead to some unusual activities, like riding up and down elevators ad nauseum and listening to the mechanical squeaking sounds of them; like finding all manner of trickling, dripping, leaking, splashing, crashing or running water; like learning how to tune in to the faintest whispers of music in various settings like restaurants, malls, or while driving by other cars.

When I think of where Sam was when we started this journey (the autism part) sixteen or seventeen years ago…had I seen this video of his future self, I would never have believed it possible. To watch him confidently stride along, talking about his sensory issues and acknowledging the depth of the impact his parents’ playing together with him had on him (even when we didn’t “get” the game), I am amazed.

Autism, of course, has changed all of us. Aside from making us stronger, it has also taught us the value of playing. When we made this video this weekend, it was just like…dare I say…the “good old days,” playing with Sam, following him down the rabbit hole to a source of sound that lit him up and made the wild world wonderful for him.

But, it’s not over. As we trudged out to the end of the jetty where the Wave Organ was this past weekend, we passed by The San Francisco Yacht Club maintenance building. There, some men were doing something that had to do with sailboat racing. One guy, looking through binoculars at the sailing boats in the bay, yelled, “Prepare for gun!” We were like…huh? …what? As we looked up, he was brandishing a revolver and wearing ear-protection head gear. Sam got it instantly, held his ears, and hopped away like a bunny. I was still taking in the information when the gun went off.

It was almost like one of those jokes the universe plays on you. In the past, Sam would have completely fallen apart with an event like this. But he handled it and moved on. His dad remarked, “How ironic. Here we are going to make this piece about sound and sensitivity and this gun goes off.” Sam laughed. Wow! Who ever could have guessed that he — and we — would come so far.


Sally Park Rubin is the producer of The Rocket Family Chronicles seen on The Autism Channel

Autism at the Movies: Fly Away

Unbridled joy! is how Tom (Greg Germann —  Ally McBeal, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NCIS) describes 16-year-old Mandy  (Ashley Rickards – Awkward, American Horror Story, One Tree Hill) who is severely autistic.    This also aptly describes the powerful, award-winning motion picture Fly Away.  Written, produced and directed by Janet Grillo, the film skillfully and accurately depicts the day-to-day struggles of a single mom trying to raise a severely autistic teenager girl.

…the film skillfully and accurately depicts the day-to-day struggles of a single mom trying to raise a severely autistic teenager girl

Tom has a romantic interest in Mandy’s single mother Jeanne (Beth Broderick —  The CloserCSI:Miami, Lost) whom he meets at the dog park.  He becomes Jeanne’s mirror as she fights against all odds in trying to create some normalcy in her young teen’s life.   Mandy obsesses about airplanes and flying…  Jeanne obsesses about her daughter.  Every night Jeanne must sing, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home…” to help her daughter sleep.  But usually, Mandy wakes up from night terrors screaming hysterically, “Bad Mandy, bad Mandy…” and Jeanne must console her.

Jeanne has to keep Mandy’s life extremely structured with time-consuming charts  to  help keep Mandy from sliding into severe temper tantrums. (One time she threw a desk at a classmate.) Exhausted and feeling hopeless, Jeanne places her own life on the backburner to keep “rescuing” Mandy from herself.  Ironically, Tom  is compelled to rescue Jeanne from herself as she loses her own identity in her daughter.

Ultimately, the budding relationship between Tom and Jeanne fails because of the daily trials that saddle Jeanne’s life.   Also, the stress of constantly taking care of Mandy without a break, has caused Jeanne to lose her job as well as her carefully controlled universe.   Her ex-husband and the principal of Mandy’s current educational placement push Jeanne to place Mandy in a residential school, but Jeanne sees it as “institutionalizing” her daughter and can’t do it.

The movie touches your heart and soul even if you do not have a child on the autistic spectrum.   There are some light-hearted moments  such as the time when Mandy innocently mimics someone in the pizza parlor and says, “Sh–, sh–, sh–!” over and over at the top of her lungs, to the shock of the other customers.

As the trailer suggests, parents of children with autism someday might have to realize “when love means letting go” and allowing their young ones to fly on their own.

Fly Away is available for streaming on Amazon and iTunes and on DVD.


Debra Clark is anchor of the upcoming Autism World News on The Autism Channel.

The Return of Rocket

Rocket… Where’ve you been?

In the last month, there’s been a lag in production on The Rocket Family Chronicles set. Why?

The Rocket Family Chronicles was born out of a project entitled “maivens” which is a TV pilot script about four woman-centric families. In order to sell “maivens,” I produced some promo pieces based on the family that most resembled my own—Rocket’s family. By the time we were done shooting it, we all felt that the show really needed to be focused more on Rocket than Maive.SamDetective2

This posed a serious concern for us. Up to this point, we had only operated on a need-to-know basis regarding Sam’s (who plays Rocket) autism because he holds his own as an actor. He’s a consummate entertainer and a serious professional, so his dad and I were concerned about him coming out as an “actor with autism,” since there is still a pervasive lack of understanding about strengths associated with autism.

But by then Sam himself was “coming out” about his situation. And he had just finished writing his book—And Action! My TAKE on Autism (and Life)which chronicles how acting and film making made the world relevant to him and helped to draw him out of autism. We followed his lead. We created the Intro’s and Outro’s to wrap the episodes to make them more Rocket-focused.

Since, we have always looked to the innate intelligence behind whatever stage of autism Sam was experiencing, we weighted the Intro and Outro wrappers to look towards the positive aspects of autism.

We had a limited number of episodes, so we decided to create the Rocket Extras to stretch out the material for The Autism Channel. We felt that the Rocket Extras were a great opportunity to provide insight into some of what we’ve learned as autism parents. We consulted with nutrition expert, Kelly Dorfman, who has helped over many years with Sam’s recovery. She suggested the character Professor Neurotica. We put a wig on Sam and the rest is history.

Recently, we added Sam Snoop Private Eye. Ed Rubin got the idea to make it like Film Noir. It was inspired by The Maltese Falcon. The original working title was The Gut Detective. As a family, we went crazy (but had fun) researching all the Film Noir spots in San Francisco where Humphrey Bogart, Hitchcock and others have shot their films. The upcoming Sam Snoop episode, The Case of the Foggy Brain, has taken almost a month to complete for two reasons: 1) We got a little hyperfocused on the Film Noir concept, and 2) in between, Sam made another film for which he needed to have a beard.

…it’s been a busy month on the Rocket set. Rocket will be back this Friday…

The independent film, directed by Max Sokoloff, was created as a short to be shown at a film club that Sam runs in Berkeley, California at Tom Franco’s Art Collective every other Saturday night. If you’re in the Bay Area, please check out the club.

So, despite the fact that no one’s seen Rocket lately, it’s been a busy month on the Rocket set. Rocket will be back this Friday on The Autism Channel as Sam Snoop Private Eye.


Sally Park Rubin is the producer of The Rocket Family Chronicles one of the most popular series on The Autism Channel.

Autism at the Movies: The Story of Luke

Most people take every day life skills such as getting a job or going out on a date for granted.  But for people with autism, these normal activities of life can be quite challenging.  “The Story of Luke,”  Director/Writer Alonso Mayo’s coming-of-age comedy starring Lou Taylor Pucci (as Luke), Seth Green (as Zach), Cary Elwes (as Uncle Paul) and Kristin Bauer (as Aunt Cindy), brilliantly addresses these delicate issues surrounding autism with lightness, subtlety and truth.

Many scenes really touch your heart…

Like most people Luke’s age, including “Neuro-Typicals (NTs),” Luke, a young man with autism, wants to be independent and embarks on his own  journey after his grandmother passes away.  He had been raised by and  living with his grandparents after his mother abandoned him when he was just a small child.  After the funeral, he and his senile grandfather Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) move in with his relatives (Uncle Paul, Aunt Cindy and their two teenager children) who have their own quirky set of problems.  Eventually, Jonas is placed in an assisted living home, which leaves Luke to fend for himself with the arena of oddball relatives.  Luke decides he has to escape, and the only way to acquire independent living is to get a job.  So when he goes to a special placement agency, he falls for Maria (Sabryn Rock) the receptionist.  He decides that in order to ask Maria out on a date, he will definitely need to get a job first.

The agency places Luke with a firm that recruits disabled people for training at no pay.   There he meets Zach, the eccentric, snippy IT manager, who’s also Luke’s supervisor.  He educates Luke on the behaviors and expectations of “NTs” and they develop a friendship based on mutual neediness.

Many scenes really touch your heart, such as the one where Luke decides to “meet” his mother after she had abandoned him years ago.  There are also plenty of comedic moments to rescue the audience from any possibility of overly gravitas situations.

Pucci does an outstanding job of portraying a young man with autism.  It made me question many times throughout the film whether he actually had the condition or not.  Green’s portrayal of Zach is a wonderful ride through a character’s struggle with the brink of insanity as you see him realize that he needed Luke more than Luke needed him.

All in all, I highly recommend that you see this film before it closes, or you will regret missing not just a movie… but a life-changing experience you’ll never forget.

a video recommendation from the autism channel


Debra Clark is anchor of the upcoming Autism World News on The Autism Channel.

 

The Degrees of Awareness

When most of what you do revolves around autism, you come to believe that everyone shares some kind of base level of understanding. At one-in-50, most everyone today at least knows somebody who cares for someone on the spectrum or is on the spectrum themselves.

That’s why I came away from Five Guys the other day with more guilt than the off-my-diet meal I brought home called for. I was wearing a polo shirt with The Autism Channel logo on it, and the counter clerk saw it, and started talking autism. Suddenly, I was giving advice to the mother of a 6-year-old boy who is on-the-spectrum and appears to have had no intervention at all.

The saddest are those who know, and do nothing.

“He’s getting very difficult to handle. You wouldn’t believe it.” Of course, I did believe it. She asked me what she should do, and I silently wished I had an easy answer; a rapid-response team that would parachute into her life and do all the work she should have been doing that somehow would retroactively bring the intervention that is proving to have such great effects when it is early.

The exchange brought home to me how many of these children are falling through the cracks every day. I told her about the local CARD program at FAU and told her to call. I suggested that the local chapter of The Autism Society would be able to point her to places she might be able to seek help. She may take my advice, and she may continue to do nothing.

There are many kinds of awareness. We tend to focus on the degrees of awareness that involve society-at-large not understanding autism or the alarming rate at which the diagnoses numbers are increasing; or the legislators who aren’t sufficiently motivated to address the public policy concerns; or the undiagnosed. When these groups do nothing, it is frustrating. But there are a thousand things vying for their attention.

The saddest are those who know, and do nothing. There are a myriad of reasons; I’m sure the counter clerk barely makes it financially, and Florida’s social services are not known for actively seeking new clients. But we all will pay a price for this treatment deferred, first the schools, and then our support services for the disabled.

None will pay so dear a price as her son, whose future is losing brightness with every day that passes.


Jerry Trowbridge is Executive Producer/Technology for The Autism Channel

Anne Sullivan, The Original Pioneer

I recently attended the dramatic depiction of the story of Helen Keller also known as “The Miracle Worker”. It was there that I realized that Annie Sullivan, unbeknownst to her, acted as what I would consider to be the original pioneer of what we in the field of autism know today as “The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach” (TSA)

You may be familiar with the legacy of Anne Sullivan, who is better known as the teacher and companion of Helen Keller. A natural developmentalist Anne knew all about ‘the just right ingredients’ that were necessary to help Helen learn; REALLY learn!. Much like TSA, Anne’s approach was to meet Helen ‘where she was’ at all times. She  saw each waking moment as a grand opportunity to teach, an otherwise un-teachable child, things like language, abstract concepts, and daily life skills. Moreover, Anne strategically used  each moment she interfaced with Helen to facilitate Helen’s ability to connect with the people, physical environment, and emotions that surrounded Helen each day.

“like a little safe, locked… that no one can open. Perhaps there is a treasure inside.

Helen Keller, although not formally diagnosed on the autism spectrum, presented at times similar to how children with autism do. She struggled to fully express herself, and to act on her world in a safe way. She also struggled to establish conventional relationships with peers and classmates, and even with her family, who despite their ignorance about Helen’s condition, loved Helen her deeply. Yet against the odds, the bright Helen Keller was fierce and determined in her quest to exist in the world. The very world that early on, served to antagonize and sabotage the spirited girl, even as attempted to meet her own basic needs.

In her own words Anne describes Helen as being “like a little safe, locked… that no one can open. Perhaps there is a treasure inside.” In this precise diary excerpt we see in Anne the budding awareness of what we know in 2013 to be true of EVERY child on the autism spectrum; there most certainly IS a treasure that warrants unlocking. A treasure lying within a safe that can, and will, be ‘opened’ with the just-right tools and the just right locksmiths…the ones who help make connections where connections first must happen – the brain.
Anne used many methods to elicit those connections, and insisted on first “reaching, and then teaching”  young Helen. With this approach, a commensurate hallmark of TSA, Anne elicited in Helen true, meaningful and brisk progress. She helped Helen unlock her own safe and subsequently she helped unleash the communicative, functional, and intelligent version of Helen Keller the world now remembers.
Among Helen Keller’s array of accomplishments are writing, lecturing, and political advocacy for deaf/blind populations everywhere. For this we all have to thank the Keller Family, Helen herself, and of course the incomparable Miss Anne Sullivan whom I suspect at one time or another muttered to herself TSA’s famous tag line… “It Doesn’t Need to be This Hard…For Anyone.”


Awetism Productions produces Connect with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. seen on The Autism Channel