Red Headphone Cupcakes
AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH
April is Autism Acceptance Month. Orchestrated by Paula Durbin-Westby in 2011, the first celebration of this special month was devised to shift the focus from autism awareness to acceptance. Typical autism awareness campaigns of late are often times insensitive and maligning to the autism community. It was natural progression then, to affirm a positive light on autistics and autism.
The following story was first published in August of 2011. As we are now halfway through Autism Acceptance Month it’s an ideal time to share it again; to go back to the shift when acceptance gained momentum.
Autism acceptance has a long way to go. But the account of how a town embraced one of its own is a fine example of how it can be done. Read on…
Nearly twenty-five years ago John and Lori Horton said, “I do.” But today, as their Silver anniversary approaches, the couple will renew their wedding vows at three o’clock in the afternoon on the water’s edge of a San Diego beach. Though I’ve only known John for several months, I feel as though I’ve known him and his family for many years.
With John at the helm, he and Lori are the heart and soul behind RED HEADPHONES FOR AUTISM, a community page on Facebook. The premise of the community is simple: Promoting autism awareness and acceptance through a fun and positive life filled with love and autism, it’s not always perfect but its life. …But its life, the one simplistic qualifier that says it all. Life is, after all, experience. And while we are all unique individuals, we often times have similar experiences. Whether the experiences bring joy, make us sad, move us forward or take us a giant leap backwards, they are moments in our lives on a ticking timeline. It is in the sharing of these experiences that we build communities, a scaffolding of human bonds that holds us together, holds us up.
The autism community—individuals, their families & friends, educators, therapists et al who live with autism, relies upon the support of its members for a better quality of life. A life where uniqueness is celebrated, where different is beautiful and the gifts embedded within the individual are proudly displayed and utilized as a productive, contributing participant in society. But to be aware of autism is not enough. Autism must be embraced through global acceptance which is free from judgment and criticism.
John and I met via Facebook through mutual friends of a similar autism awareness page. It didn’t take long for us to bond as we are fathers of autistic sons—that, and he’s a genuinely nice guy. Many of you have met my son Devin in previous posts, but you haven’t met John’s son, Derek, who is the inspirational source for Red Headphones for Autism. Derek is a young man of 20 who has an affinity for red headphones. Red headphones and Derek are as synonymous as Sinatra and the Fedora. And what a glorious shade of red they are too!
As the story goes, in the community where the Horton’s live, Derek is popular among the citizens who easily recognize him by his signature red gear when he’s out and about the town. Folks warmly embrace Derek, often calling him by name, with a smile and a friendly wave. And while Derek may be short on words, I’m told he’ll return a twinkly smile to passersby. Was it easy for Derek in establishing himself in society? Of course not, but the strides he’s made to date is attributable to his family and friends among townspeople who are willing to accept Derek for who he is—a young man who has the capacity to love, to emote feelings, has interests, fears, desires and contributions to make no matter how big or small just like anybody else. Do challenges lie ahead for Derek? Yes, however in a community where acceptance is well underway, I suspect those challenges might be a bit easier to tackle with that level of support in place. It’s no wonder then that red headphones were chosen as the symbol of Red Headphones for Autism.
This past spring when John posted a status update mentioning summer plans to come to California including a stop in my area, I smiled at the thought of visiting with him and his family. A couple of direct messages and a few months later, that day came this past Sunday at the California State Railroad Museum in historic Old Sacramento―one of Derek’s favorite places. As we approached the museum entrance, it was easy to spot our friends, not from physical identifiers as one might think, but from the familiar vibe of the party of three waiting for the door to open.
While our visit was everything I had hoped it would be, friends sharing a good time, swapping stories of our children and life experiences, the Old Sacramento location was not the only historic thing happening that day―this particular day marked the occasion of friends meeting face-to-face for the very first time, but the union was as if we had known each other for many years.
In meeting my friends for the very first time, I knew I wanted to bring something special. So I quickly settled on an idea to express my appreciation for them, something that would elicit a smile. And that’s exactly what these delicious cupcakes decorated with the symbol that stays close to their hearts did. While it was Facebook that brought us together, it’s the ensuing friendship we share that will keep us that way.
This is a reprint from http://cakewalkr.com/red-headphone-cupcakes/ Check out the wonderfully beautiful cakes on the site!