Thursday, December 20, 2012

Becoming an Advocate

I never thought I’d be one to enjoy going places and talking about my books, but I've found this past year to really like it. Last month I was at a school in Texas where I spoke to each grade (K-5) about Chicken Boy. Then just yesterday I was part of a writer’s panel at the prestigious Trinity School in Manhattan with a group that included screenwriters, playwrights, ghostwriters, authors, sports writers…it was really a great day. We each had two workshop sessions with groups of middle school students and then we all came together for a Q&A in the auditorium.

I've been speaking about writing for several years now: sometimes as a guest speaker to the creative writing class at the college where I work and other times at book signings and talk backs.

 As I stop and look back on the past year, I think what baffles and excites me the most is I never knew I’d become such an autism awareness advocate. I don’t know if one sets out with the thought that’s what they intend to do or if it just happens organically. When I speak of my children’s book, I can’t help but talk of my godson and many of the questions turn to autism (and not just about writing). I always state I’m not an expert in the field, but I do love discussing and hearing other people’s stories of those they know. When a group of students talk openly about it – it reduces the stigma that is associated with it…even if just a little. And the stigma these children have placed on them…well, it really breaks my heart. (Read my Huffington Post blog from this week on my feelings about that.)

Perhaps there was a bigger plan for my 2012 that I never even considered when people were voting on my children’s book online a year ago. Sure, I love being a writer and I suppose I enjoy public speaking more than I thought I would. But maybe I was meant to be one small voice in this vast world that is autism awareness. I wish I could do more, but if I can take these moments as a writer to be able to make just one person in the room aware of interacting with a child with autism…I feel I’m doing some good.

I suppose I became an advocate without even realizing I was doing it: looks like my godson was the one teaching me all along.

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