Monday, October 20, 2008

Speaking of Autism

Thanks to my mom for calling my attention to the most recent episode of the public radio program, Speaking of Faith, entitled Being Autistic, Being Human.

Here's the lead in:

One child in every 150 in the U.S. is now diagnosed to be somewhere on the spectrum of autism. We step back from public controversies over causes and cures and explore the mystery and meaning of autism in one family's life, and in history and society. Our guests say that life with their child with autism has deepened their understanding of human nature — of disability, and of creativity, intelligence, and accomplishment.

The show's host, Krista Tippet, interviews a couple, Paul Collins and Jennifer Elder, who have an eight-year-old son with autism. Paul and Jennifer are both writers and each have authored books inspired by their journey as parents of a child on the autism spectrum.

Paul and Jennifer are incredibly insightful, compassionate, and delightful people. Besides being intelligent and articulate on the subject of the autism spectrum, they just seem like really cool people. I kept thinking, "I wish I lived in Portland. I would invite them over for dinner."

Tippet acknowledges at the end of the program that this was the most difficult show she had ever had to edit because the interview was so substantive and interesting. She has decided to make their entire, uncut conversation available as an additional podcast on the show's website.

I was especially moved by Jennifer's observation in which she acknowledges that she has "a happy, healthy son with autism" and how no one would have put those words together in a sentence just a few decades ago.

Listen to the show. I guarantee it will lift your spirits.


While you're at it, check out this Newsweek article that features autism mom and blogger Kristina Chew on the significance and subtext of the mention of autism in the final presidential debate.


Anonymous said...

To learn more about autism and autism spectrum disorders, people may download free Autism Spectrum Podcasts put out by Midnight in Chicago at

KT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katy said...

Thanks for sharing this. It was indeed a wonderful listen. Paul and Jennifer are such eloquent, thoughtful people, and I am looking forward to listening to the unedited conversation and picking up a copy of Paul's book.

Jordan said...

I'm so glad to hear this. Someone sent me the link to this a few days ago and I haven't had time to listen yet but now I definitely will.