I had the most amazing opportunity to head into Manhattan to the Ladies Home Journal 29th floor office for a luncheon. They are helping to start a grass roots campaign for the Golden Hat Foundation, http://www.goldenhatfoundation.org
, a group focused on autism advocacy. Be sure to check out their March issue where Kate Winslet gives an interview about the book.
|Me and Lisa Quinones Fontanez, of www.AutismWonderland.com, a blog friend of mine for years I finally got to meet in person, by the cover of the March issue of Ladies Home Journal with Kate Winslet's story about the Golden Hat Foundation.
I was completely out of my element, surrounded by published authors (people who have whole books published, unlike my essays and articles), and editors of popular websites and magazines. My little place placard simply said:
which paled in comparison to the 20 other place cards filled with accomplishments and impressive titles. I met personable, learned ladies and engaged in some great conversation. And yes, at my spot was a little swag: free copy of the magazine, documentary (mentioned below), and a preview edition of the upcoming the Golden Hat book by Kate Winslet. I flipped through the magazine and on the editor's note page saw the picture of Sally Lee, then looked over to see her sitting 5 places over in real life.
I was able to meet the founder, Margret Ericsdottir, who I immediately recognized from the documentary, A Mother's Courage. I saw it on HBO last year and was so impressed by this mother's tenacity and strength. Look for an upcoming review I plan to do on the piece soon.
Margret has done so much to learn how best to help her severely autistic son, Keli, navigate the world around him. Living in Iceland, she felt isolated and helpless as they dealt with his diagnosis and treatment. One of the most amazing things she did was give him a voice. Through therapies and specialists, they found ways to help him communicate and found all that was going on mentally inside this complex boy.
After years of working to research and find the best methods for him, she felt tired. She wanted to help people with Autism as a whole, wanted to do more globally to raise awareness, but she was overwhelmed.
As she decided to accept she couldn't take on any more, Kate Winslet was coincidentally coming up with an idea to help Margret accomplish her goals. They had met and become friends after Kate Winslet was asked to translate the film from Icelandic to English. Kate became smitten with Keli, couldn't stop thinking about what she'd seen about autism, and knew she had to meet Margret and Keli. She sent Margret this email right around the time Margret had accepted to take a break from her crusade:
|Gives me a whole new respect for Kate Winslet
Keli had written a poem about a Golden Hat, which gives kids who are non-verbal a voice:
This boy had a golden hat.
The hat was magical. It could talk.
The boy did not have any voice. He had autism.
His hat was always with him.
His hat was lost one day.
Now he had no way of telling them his stories.
His mom and dad became sad.
They taught him spelling on a letterboard.
It was hard.
The Golden Hat Foundation was born. Kate Winslet contacted and hunted down as many celebrities as possible and had them put on her Twilby hat and share the first thought that came into their mind.
Here are just a few celebrities who participated: Elijah Wood, Ellen Page, George Clooney, Jude Law, Conan O'Brien, Kobe Bryant, Meryl Streep, Ben Stiller, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Phelps.
|Tom Hanks' page
|Justin Timberlake's page
Please plan to support this project by purchasing The Golden Hat
, available April 3, 2012.
I have teamed up with the Golden Hat Foundation and will be doing work for their grass roots campaign to get the word out about this amazing project. Look for future posts, articles, and other media from me explaining the ideas these ladies have. One includes a campus for individuals with severe autism of all ages to learn, work, and live together, while helping the public understand what autism truly is and realizing people on the spectrum have a place in our society. You can see a video of the proposed campus at the Golden Hat site, http://www.goldenhatfoundation.org
I am incredibly honored to be a part of this.
Thank you to Ladies Home Journal, for the luncheon, the opportunity, and for supporting such a worthy cause. Thank you to Kate Winslet for supporting a cause which doesn't even affect you personally, a sign of true compassion, philanthropy, and humanity. Thank you to Lisa Helt, Projects Director of the Golden Hat, who is so supportive and amicable. And a special thank you to Margret. It was a pleasure to meet you, tell you my story, and hear your story in person. Thank you for all you do for people with autism, especially my little boy.
My mom took me and the boys out for dinner at a small hole in the wall Chinese place. As we were finishing, the boys started getting a little loud so we agreed that she would stay and get the leftovers boxed, pay for the meal (moms are so good for that), and meet us at my car.
I was 3 steps from the door when a lady looks at me and then my kids and says,
"Those kids are too loud. I mean, they are really loud."
The woman behind her rolled her eyes and gave me the, "yes you are clear to tear this woman a new one," look.
So I say, "Of course they are loud, they are children, just as you said."
"Yes, but these children are really loud."
"Well what do you expect? They are children. And we are leaving."
"I am a teacher and these children are really loud." (In case you weren't counting that is the 3rd time she said the same exact thing)
"I am a teacher too."
"Well that's great."
I turn to go, but just couldn't.
"Do you have children of your own?"
"Yes. And THOSE children (pointing to my 2) are really loud." (Yep, number 4)
"Listen lady, Karma's a bitch. You need to watch out." (Oh yeah, I was in threat mode by this point.)
She just nodded her head. I walked out....AND THEN WALKED BACK IN! I just couldn't leave without really blowing this lady up.
"Do you happen to teach any kids with special needs?"
"Yes, I have 400 students and deal with all types of special needs."
"Well one of those little boys happens to have Autism, have you heard of that?"
"Oh, yes." (I am looking right in her eye and she is avoiding my gaze)
"So maybe you should learn to use a little f***ing discretion from now on and watch what you say."
And then I leaned in close and actually called her a b****. Yep. I did it. Anger management issues anyone? Good thing is that my mom, who is somewhat of a saint, did not think I was in the wrong. She couldn't believe that lady either. I mean, we were leaving because I knew my kids were getting loud. What more did she want?
Truth is, neither of my boys were being loud because of special needs, maybe a tiny bit could be attributed to ADHD and sensory overload. But all in all, they were just being kids. So this kind of thing probably happens to all parents, unless your kids are perfect, in which case you should stop reading this because I hate you and you are not welcome here.
Come on people, stop judging others. Are two little boys making noise in a restaurant for 3 minutes really so bothersome you have to be rude and insult my parenting and my kids? Get over yourself lady. If you want everyone around you to behave in the way you dictate, then stay the f*** home.
This has been deep thoughts, the real truthful kind, by Jean Myles.