Before autism awareness month in April had begun, I had started to work on weekly themes. For April, I covered most of the events my group, Central Michigan Autism Society of America, hosted here in Mt. Pleasant.
So now that life is sort of back to normal, I will go back to my themes. Yesterday was Mother's Day here in the United States, so this week I will focus my posts on mothers who have made a difference in the realm of autism. Over the past two months I've learned about women who created a way to fulfil unmet needs for their children with autism and others like them. These moms are truly inspiring and amazing.
Today's post will be about Elaine Hall from The Miracle Project. Those of you who watched or read about Autism: The Musical may be familiar with her name. She is "Coach E," mother of one of the stars, Neal. She is the woman who pulled everyone together to put on the show featured in the HBO documentary that debuted March 25. HBO has some nice pages dedicated to Neal and Elaine as well as the other families of the four other young stars of the HBO film. There are some nice pictures of Neal and Elaine on their page. There are also updates on Neal and some nice quotes from Elaine.
From the HBO site:
"Elaine Hall - "Coach E," the founder of The Miracle Project, is an educator, writer, consultant, performer and professional acting coach for TV and film who has written and directed more than 30 children's plays. She is the mother of Neal, who was diagnosed as autistic after adoption. When traditional therapies did not help Neal, Hall sought out creative people (actors, writers and musicians) to work with her son, developing new methods to reach autistic children, which resulted in The Miracle Project."
Featured quotes from Elaine:
"The play at the end is really not the most important thing. The 18-20 weeks prior to the play, before we even get on the stage, are really the heart and the soul of the program. We literally have kids who start out hiding under tables, can't come into the room, it's too loud, they've never been in a social situation before. Their parents say, "I don't know if this is gonna work. They've never been socialized."
For the families, it's a community where it's not about therapy. It's the one place during the week where it's not about "What's wrong with my child and what goals do I need to set?" For the kids, it's a place where they come in and they're immediately loved and accepted and part of a community and missed. A lot of our kids -- you're not really missed because they kind of cause a ruckus out in the world. But here, if someone doesn't show up, they're really missed and everyone calls and wants to know where they are. It's like 'Cheers' -- it's a place where everyone knows your name."