Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Parade Magazine on Autism and an Invitation to Tell your Story on Its Website

Parade Magazine, a weekly magazine insert in Sunday papers nationwide in the United States (and perhaps worldwide too?), featured autism as its cover story. I liked the article. The writer's take on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is remarkably similar to mine in terms of autism being an "epidemic," the emphasis on early intervention, and the importance of hope.

The article did venture into vaccines (a topic for which I must summon bravery to write about again), but stayed pretty much in the safe zone. I, too, have been recently sticking to safe topics in regards to autism, although that may change in the future.

Anyway, the best feature of all was the magazine's invitation to readers to tell their stories at the magazine's online site. Yes, it was designed as a comment feature, but their comment section had a twist--a comment section for every comment.

The invitation allowed readers to fill in the gaps in terms of issues the reporter did not write about due to space issues. And fill in the gaps they did. As of 11 p.m. on January 28, they had received 138 stories (with a few repeat storytellers.)

Parents with adult children on the spectrum wrote in to complain about the emphasis the media places on children with ASD. People concerned about vaccines wrote in to defend their beliefs. Those who embrace neurodiversity and do not think of autism as a disease also voiced their opinions. Siblings with autistic brother(s) and/or sister(s) and professionals working with individuals on the spectrum wrote in too. Of course, certain therapies were mentioned as well with some of them seeming a little bit strange...

Did I tell my son's story at the site? No, this time I just "listened." Reading most of the stories gave me ideas for future posts. I, too, would like to fill the gaps on this blog in regards to autism.

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