They all have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD and autism are general terms referring to complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by varying degrees of repetitive behaviors; and social interaction, nonverbal and verbal communication difficulties.
Darryl Hannah was diagnosed with autism as a child and felt isolated from others her age. Her experiences of isolation helped drive her love of old movies and interest in acting. Hannah’s acting career has spanned more than three decades. She has starred in dozens of films, including “Wall Street,” “Grumpy Old Men,” and the “Kill Bill” movies. Hannah is also an environmental activist. In an interview with People magazine, a friend remarked that when she “feels passionate about something, she loses all her fears.”
Known for surprising the judges and viewers with her incredible vocal skills on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009, Susan Boyle has released five albums, been nominated for two Grammy Awards, and won the Radio Forth Award in 2013. As a child, Susan was diagnosed with brain damage, but she sought a better diagnosis as an adult. In 2012, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She has said the diagnosis was a relief because she has a “clearer understanding of what’s wrong.”
“Blues Brothers” and “Ghost Busters” star Dan Aykyroyd was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in the early 1980s after his wife convinced him to see a doctor. He’s said that he has an obsession with ghosts and law enforcement, which led to the creation of “Ghost Busters.” Dan’s career as an actor, writer, and producer has spanned 40 years.
Kids often love to see people “just like” them. While the path of every child with ASD will be different, seeing well-known successful people with ASD can help inspire children as well as give them someone to look up to.
Locally, an estimated 20,000 people are affected by autism (according to the Autism Society) and there are many wonderful resources for families including nonprofit, the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.
About the Autism Society
The Autism Society is the first organization in our region dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families. Founded in 1970 by local parents and professionals, one of the ways it supports families today is by maintaining a communications support system called Autism Connection, available to everyone seven days a week by phone or online. Live, certified specialists are trained and ready to help by providing current and relevant information. Within the Autism Connection are these programs:
Connect To Live Help is the first step for families to find helpful services is to talk with a trained certified specialist and Autism Society staff are available from 9 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week.
Neighbor 2 Neighbor that links a parent in your area to you as a special personal contact.
Autism Conversations are groups in neighborhoods led by professionals and parents offering parents opportunities to learn more about ASD and treatment approaches.
Adults With ASD Group Meetings are held on the second and fourth Sunday evenings at The Children’s Home (5050 Madison Rd), with a goal being to provide a place for adults identified with Asperger syndrome/high functioning autism and support each other.
Monthly Family Support Meetings are held on the second Tuesdays from 7:00 – 8:30 P.M. at Kenwood Baptist Church at 8341 Kenwood Road.
For more on any of these programs, you can reach the Autism Society at: 513-561-2300 or http://www.autismcincy.org/
The Event To Connect
This Friday, October 23, is a big fundraiser for the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.
The Event To Connect will include music and dinner by the Bite Open Bar. Plus, there will be a live auction and about 38 fabulous silent auction items including dinner at Ruby’s and cocktails at Ivy, sports memorabilia, a Belterra package, Disney items and a hopper pass, art from various local artists, several golf packages, holiday baskets, fine restaurant certificates, wine and other alcoholic beverages, entertainment tickets, and much more.
(Volunteer Terri Hogan has been volunteering countless hours to coordinate the silent auction.)
at The Transept on Washington Park
1205 Elm St; Cincinnati
from 7 to 11 pm
valet parking is available
There are a few seats still available. Tickets are $100 or a VIP ticket is $150. To register, please call 513-561-2300, email Carole Willenborg at email@example.com; or register online here.
CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!
Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Terri Hogan, a Cincinnati volunteer and philanthropist. We met when I was working on the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival and she was the Premiere Weekend co-chair. If you know Terri, then you no doubt have also been inspired by her. She gives of herself tirelessly to causes and people she holds close to her heart. When knocked down, she bounces right back up with an invigorated determination. She practices her gratitude strength every day.
The mother of a beautiful daughter from a previous marriage, Heidi, Terri was in her 40s when she and her husband Paul decided they wanted to adopt. The couple were in the delivery room when a tiny, four-pound premature baby boy made his entrance into this world. Bailey was perfect in every sense, hitting normal milestones for infants. But then things suddenly changed and at 2 ½, their little boy was given the diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.
Terri walked out of her doctor’s office asking herself, “Now what?” It was overwhelming, she shared. So much so that she was given a prescription for her depression, and she never cried as much as she did the day she took her first and only pill.
“I just said, ‘no more’,” she told me. And that was her turning point.
She went back to school so she could learn how she could get her son to talk; and, about a month after she began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis, Bailey said his first words, “Mom, green train.”
If you have ever been a parent, you know, you will never forget your child’s first words. For Bailey, that sentence was the door that unlocked an entire world of exploration. And for his mom, it was the driving force for her relentless quest to keep learning, keep teaching, and keep giving.
Seventeen years have passed now since the Hogan’s first took their baby boy home and he spells words to him mom. On Facebook, Terri posts regularly about his progress and about the lessons Bailey teaches her about life. She writes of the people she has impacted and those who have touched her, as a result of his being in her life.
I asked Terri some questions.
GTGA: How has your life been impacted by having Bailey?
Terri: Prior to Bailey, I was self centered. I didn’t know the people I know now and didn’t feel as happy as I do now. Now I wake up and think, ‘What can I do today? Who am I going to help?’, because I feel like a single act of kindness can transform a person’s life forever. I never would have felt that before.
In my world now, I go to a luncheon and I am in awe. I realize there is still so much in this world to learn.
I also don’t worry about silly things.
GTGA: How would you describe Bailey to a stranger?
Terri: Bailey is really smart and he has a cute sense of humor. If he is motivated, he can to the moon and back. His eyes are amazing and he speaks a lot with his eyes. He is really social and high fives the waiters and waitresses. He loves to play ball and swim. He also loves his Reds and Bengals.
GTGA: What has Bailey taught you about life?
Terri: He has taught me to not worry about the small stuff and he has really opened my life to a whole new world and made me happier than ever.
GTGA: Tell us about some of your volunteer work.
Terri: It was about two years after I began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis that I got on the board of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, and now serve on committees. At the time, they had just lost about $100,000 and Paul and I were determined to help them recoup that. We pounded the pavement and organized events. We raised $80,000 for them that year because they do such a great job.
I am involved with so many organizations. Among them are Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Visionaries and Voices, Melody Connections, Impact Autism, Birthright, Hyde Park Senior Center, and Crayons to Computers.
Paul and I like to help the small guys to help them get on track because we feel like the bigger organizations have a lot of support.
GTGA: This year you lost your greatest role model, your dad. Tell us about him.
Terri: My parents raised eight kids. My dad was a self made man who was so giving and sacrificing. What I always loved about him was that he was always into something. I remember as a little girl that I’d follow him around. I’d sit down with him and he’d tell me everything he was involved in. And then when I began getting involved with things, he would help me and write me notes and send things he read in the paper. He’s say, ‘Terri, you need to see this. Your group may benefit from it.’ He was a teacher. I miss him.