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Autism Culture Wrap-Up: The Loving Push, Acoustic Guitars, and Admirable Restaurants

In this week’s look at autism in popular and mainstream culture, we look at a unique new look at how to care for kids wth autism, an event in Ohio that seeks to harness the soft power of acoustic guitars in the name of autism, and a restaurant in England who recently made quite a name for itself sticking up for an employee with autism.


First up, long-time autism advocate and author Temple Grandin is back at it with a new book, co-authored with Debra Moore, that posits a hard but potentially effective method of parenting: pushing children with autism out of their comfort zones so that they might truly realize their potential. The thesis was inspired by Grandin’s own experiences as a child, giving her prodding mother credit with pushing Temple to achieve her dreams, no matter how tough they seemed.


“It can be tough to move our spectrum kids forward, because the autistic brain is usually very sensitive to change and novelty. Routines, rituals, and sameness are the preferred status quo,” the authors write. “Even introducing what to you seems to be a minor change can trigger major resistance or meltdowns. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth the fight. But we’re here to tell you that your child depends on you pushing them.”


Of course, as children with autism tend to lean towards disorganization and struggle with self-initiation, the authors’ message might strike some parents as unnecessarily harsh, but it is certainly a unique piece of advice that will likely stand out for years to come.


Moving from the written word to the plucked string of a guitar, an annual concert held in Maumee, Indiana has become an unlikely beacon for the autism community in the area. While a rock show isn’t typically considered autism-friendly entertainment, the Acoustics for Autism has become a real event, boasting over 50 musical acts and 14 hours of fun for the whole family.


The event was founded by a lawyer named Nicole Khoury who, during the daytime is a lawyer, but at night, she turns into a rocker. She helped to create the event as a means to raise both awareness and funds for autism care, with hundreds of thousands already being raised since 2008. Around $98,500 of the money earned through the festival has been delivered by Ms. Khoury herself to over fifty families in the area in need.


Finally, we hop across the pond to learn about an interesting anecdote that shows the shifting mentality of small businesses in favor of supporting and hiring employees with autism. Mike Jennings, the owner of the British restaurant Grenache, posted on his company’s accounts recently about a particular table of patrons who were displeased that their server displayed symptoms of autism. As Jennings says, “The customers seemed to have a problem, even through the service was good. I explained that he suffered from autism and their response was that they didn’t want to be served by him,”


Following the harassment by the patrons, Jennings took to his Facebook account with a message that serves as a perfect closing for this week’s wrap-up: “Here are Grenache, we employ staff based on experience, knowledge, and passion…NOT the coulour of their skin, or the way they look, how many tattoos they have, their dress size, religious beliefs or illness. We do not discriminate.” Jennings’ message is one to rally around if ever there was one.