Sunday, February 26, 2012

Communicating with autism: The Golden Hat Foundation

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a series of conversations with Matthew about garden equipment. “When was the first time I saw a lawn mower? Was it gas powered or not? Did my dad let me use it? Does my dad believe in leaf blowers, or does he like rakes better? Do you think that David Lee Roth mows his own lawn? Can you go on the computer and find out?” The conversations can be draining. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled weird things like “David Lee Roth mowing lawns” or “Best karaoke lounge on the border between Minnesota and South Dakota.”

Still, I’m aware of how incredibly lucky I am that Matthew can talk to me. So many of my friends have children who are non-verbal; they would give anything to have the kind of interaction I have with Matthew.

I was reminded of this when I learned about a new documentary, narrated by Kate Winslet “A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism,” about a young nonverbal Icelandic boy named Keli. Kate was moved by the efforts of Keli’s mom, Margret Ericsdottir, to find a way for her son to learn to communicate. “I simply couldn’t conceive of how devastating it would be,”Kate said, “not to be able to hear my children’s voices.”

Kate and Margret bonded through the production of the documentary, and brainstormed ways to help children like Keli and the Golden Hat Foundation was born. Ladies Home Journal features the story of Kate and Magret in this months issue. I applaud the magazine for shining a light on the importance of recognizing the needs of the underserved population of individuals with non verbal autism.

The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with autism around the world, and creating an environment that holds these individuals as intellectually capable.

The mission of the Golden Hat Foundation is the establishment of innovative campuses that offer people with autism the opportunity to learn to communicate effectively, receive an education, job training and enjoy recreational activities, all within a supportive social network.

Read more of Laura Shumaker's SF Gate article HERE.
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