Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Autism.

If you've been reading my blog (sorry it's been dormant for so long) it's time yet again for me to leap to the next thing. For the last 3.5 years I've immersed myself in the autism world learning more than I ever thought possible. Up until last week, I had been leading teams at Autism Speaks in social media, fundraising, marketing, IT, direct mail and CRM. I've been a busy bee.

First and foremost, I learned that autism is really, really complicated. Pick any one thing about it (take causes for example) and you'll find significantly different viewpoints from a variety of corners of the community.

I deeply connected with all parts of the community; parents, children, adults, researchers, caregivers, teachers and more. Beyond any of the other causes I've been involved in, autism got under my skin in some incredible ways. I feel deeply for those on the spectrum and for their loved ones who are must struggle to understand and cope with whatever comes from their experiences for all sides of the spectrum.

The autism journey is it's own unique, amazing, stressful and challenging path - one that as a society we're just now starting to understand, cope with and build supports around. I hope to stay involved in variety of ways with the community and will not soon forget the friendships I've forged with so many touched by autism.

Being at an organization like Autism Speaks which has both fans and detractors has led me down many different paths - from conversations with self-advocates and parents to civil and gay rights leaders to try to understand and get straight in my own thick head what autism is, and what it isn't.

After my time however, I still don't have a simple or single answer. That said, I know that there are many, many people and organizations out there fighting everyday for a variety of things, all hoping to improve the lives of everyone diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

The "arc" of autism, (the story about what we as a society tell ourselves autism is and isn't) is just now cresting after years of misunderstanding and confusion. That said, there are still miles to go. Even the very definition of autism, and classification as an illness, a disorder or some other word is up for grabs. Until we as a society we find some balance in the semantics of autism we'll struggle, argue and fight. Right now, in early 2013 it's as it should be and how it must be in this moment. In the future, when we do finally figure it all out, all of our lives will be enriched with millions of new and unique voices. If you listen closely , you can actually hear a few already.

I'm extremely proud of the work my team accomplished within Autism Speaks. I want to acknowledge all those who helped shine a light on my path and informed my own journey. You know who you are - and there are many of you who helped me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Autism has changed me and affected my perspective on life for the better.

In case you are wondering, I'll be joining PwC as a Director in their customer advisory group focused on social enterprise, social business and using technology to change the world like I always do. I hope to resume regular blogging but know better.

1 comments:

Norman Reiss 7:51 PM  

Good luck in your new role, Marc

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