Autism Speaks Board of Directors member Holly Robinson Peete was highlighted as the “Cause Celeb” in the October issue of Delta Sky magazine. Holly is a huge advocate not only for Autism Speaks, but also for the autism cause in general. She and her family have shared their story not only in the media but also in books. Holly and her daughter Ryan wrote a children’s book called “My Brother Charley” and Rodney Peete wrote a personal story of coming to grips with his son’s autism diagnosis in “Not My Boy.” We thank Holly for her willingness to participate in this column and encourage you to take a look!
Check out more about Holly here!
This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by Andrew Hain a young adult who has autism.
My name is Andrew Hain. I am 17 years old and I have autism. I live in Glendale, Calif. and currently attend Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta where I will be a senior this fall. My favorite subjects in school are math and Spanish. I like going to school because it is fun and you learn new things every day.
This summer, I am continuing to volunteer at College View School, which I started last summer. College View is the special education school where disabled kids go to learn.
I am helping out by playing with the kids and assisting them around the school. I like volunteering because the teachers are very nice and the students are fun to hang out with. Volunteering is important because it helps a lot of people with special needs.
Some of my hobbies include watching game shows and Disney stuff, browsing the Internet, playing basketball, and eating. Another hobby of mine is meeting celebrities because I like them for what they do in their careers.
Some of the great celebrities I met in my life are the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, and now, here is some wonderful news about a non-Disney star I met but probably one of the bigger ones in that category.
On July 24, my parents and I volunteered at the HollyRod Foundation DesignCare benefit at the Green Acres estate in Beverly Hills. The HollyRod Foundation was founded by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL player Rodney Peete. They have a son RJ with autism. The foundation raises money for autism as well as Parkinson’s disease. We were there to support Holly and Rodney because they do so much for Autism Speaks and families with autism.
There were a lot of stars at this event raising money and some were being honored for their hard work. I met one of those honorees, Donald Trump, thanks to a woman named Pam. Now that is something very exciting for a young man with autism. Mr. Trump was very personable with me. I was even lucky enough to take a picture with him thanks to Holly’s godmother, Faith!
Also that night, although I didn’t take any pictures with them, I met Robin Thicke who was the musical performer at the event, and his dad, Alan Thicke. But the highlight was meeting The Donald.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.
Congratulations to Autism Speaks’ Board Member Holly Robinson Peete, who was the runner-up in this season’s “Celebrity Apprentice” and Bret Michaels, who took home the top prize. We are so proud of Holly, who did so much this season to raise awareness about autism and Autism Speaks.
Bret Michaels, who has diabetes and also has a daughter with diabetes, won an additional $250,000 for his charity, the American Diabetes Association. Snapple, the company featured as part of the final task, also donated $250,000 to Holly Robinson Peete’s charity, HollyRod, which helps raise funds for families dealing with autism.
Please join us in congratulating Holly on her success and thanking her for her efforts!
Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you had a great week and are ready for the weekend ahead.
Here are some ideas …
Interested in autism research? International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) brings together the world’s top scientists who will share their latest research into autism’s causes, treatments and diagnoses. It is currently taking place in Philadelphia and we will be updating media coverage and blog posts by scientists here.
Want to Walk Now for Autism Speaks? On Saturday, we have Walks in Cincinnati, Mt. Laurel (N.J.) and Wheeling (W.Va.). Sunday, we have three more in Atlanta, Ligonier (Penn.) and Paramus (N.J.). If you live near one of these towns, visit walknowforautismspeaks.org for more information and join us on Walk Day! We promise a fabulous time for you and your family.
Set your DVRs! On Saturday night at 8 p.m. EDT, NBC is re-airing this week’s episode of “Parenthood”, Team Braverman, which featured members of the family participating in a Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. Check your local listings for show information. Tune in on Sunday, May 23 at 9 p.m. EDT to NBC’s season finale of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” In the LIVE finale “Final Two Brew” Autism Speaks board member, parent and actress Holly Robinson Peete faces off against Poison’s Bret Michaels. Visit http://www.nbc.com/the-apprentice/ for more information.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend!
This is a guest post by Aaron Likens, an adult author who has Asperger Syndrome. You can follow Aaron’s blog at lifeontheothersideofthewall.blogspot.com.
I started watching “The Apprentice” from the first episode in 2004 and have followed it every season since. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2003 and started writing about my experiences in 2005. As I started to write Finding Kansas I had no idea if anyone would ever read my thoughts or feel with me as I wrote, but in an episode several months after I started to write, a new upstart charity was featured.
In that episode, Suzanne Wright, one of the founders of Autism Speaks, mentioned that their goal was to “give a voice for those who can’t speak”. I was so elated that the autism spectrum got air time and that the message of awareness was delivered through that episode and that elation translated into a deeper passion to share my story. It makes a profound impact when one realizes they aren’t fighting alone, and that episode and that quote was a turning point in my life.
Flash forward to this season of “The Celebrity Apprentice” and once again autism is a topic. Unlike the seasons that started the series that saw players playing for a job in the Trump organization, this season is the third installment of a Celebrity version where celebrities play for their favorite charity. Holly Robinson Peete has a deep connection and passion for her charity, the HollyRod Foundation that benefits those with autism, because she has a son with autism.
Going into Sunday’s episode there were five players left. Quickly the field would be “fired” to just two. Prior records were examined and a task that Holly won raised a non-finale record of $347,893!
The boardroom to determine the final two was an emotional and passionate battle. Sharon Osbourne made several comments about Holly’s huge heart, and Holly’s battle looking at her child each day and also, “I don’t know what I’d do if I had a child that wasn’t well; it’s devastating.”
I was moved by this, I live with being on the autism spectrum each day, and the compassion shown by Sharon towards Holly’s battle was much like that first moment I heard Suzanne Wright on that episode back in 2005.
Holly showed great resolve in these final boardrooms and after being interviewed by the first Apprentice, Bill Rancic, and last season’s celebrity winner, Joan Rivers, it was time for Donald Trump to choose who the final two would be.
The field was reduced to three, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, and Bret Michaels. Each of the three have a personal tie to their charities and each had been an amazingly strong player in the game. Mr. Trump took his time, and the moments on the television screen probably didn’t give justice to just how intense it was, and in the end Holly Robinson Peete and Bret Michaels made the final.
The final task involves making a new Snapple drink that will utilize their charity in the design. This is no easy task as they must make a 30-second television spot, a three-page ad, and make the drink in just three days.
Who won? The finale is next week and either Bret Michaels or Holly Robinson Peete will hear the words, “You’re hired!” I know who has already won though. Autism is often misunderstood and still there are those that don’t know what it is. For those who have it, or know someone who does, autism is a 24/7 condition that there is no current cure for. For families to see the resolve and passion that Holly Robinson Peete has shown for her cause, she has surely evoked a sense of hope.
I started writing my best work once I knew I wasn’t alone and there was someone out there that knew what autism was and the challenges that goes along with it. That was five years ago, and once again Donald Trump’s television show, “The Apprentice,” may give others that same passion I felt. So, win or lose in the game, Holly Robinson Peete is a winner in more ways than she may ever know.
On April 27, Autism Speaks partnered with PBS’ This Emotional Life to present a webinar called “Growing Up With Autism.” The webinar featured a panel of scientists, parents, and individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) explaining what it is like “Growing Up with Autism.” Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D, the Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks and Research Professor at UNC Chapel Hill led a discussion with Connie Kasari, Ph.D. (UCLA), Holly Robinson Peete, and John Elder Robison, addressing the challenges that face individuals with an ASD and their families as they are initially diagnosed, navigate peer interactions and age out of services as they enter adulthood.
If you missed the webinar, we encourage you to watch it online and share your thoughts.
TUNE IN – “Growing Up with Autism” webinar
Tuesday, April 27, 1-2 p.m. EDT
Join a panel of scientists, parents, and individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to learn what it is like “Growing Up with Autism.” Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D, the Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks and Research Professor at UNC Chapel Hill will lead a discussion with Connie Kasari, Ph.D. (UCLA), Holly Robinson Peete, and John Elder Robison, to address the challenges that face individuals with an ASD and their families as they are initially diagnosed, navigate peer interactions and age out of services as they enter adulthood.
The panelists will also focus on the different needs and abilities individuals with an ASD have in the hope of generating acceptance and support in the community. This poignant webinar will combine professional experts with personal experience to offer unique insights and perspectives that will be valuable to all who are touched by this increasingly common spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders.
To register for the free webinar, please visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/563407008.
Stay informed about “This Emotional Life’s” on-going webcasting events with thought leaders in the fields of mental health and wellness by signing up for their bi-monthly newsletters.
If you miss the webinar, we will have information soon about how you can view it. Please stay tuned!