I love Kate Winslet, Leo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman and all the other high profile people who have passed the Golden Hat around to the world at large. Thank you all so much for what you've done!
Every so often I come across a book that moves me so deeply and is so personally valuable like a king's treasure and this book is one of them. People with autism have so much to contribute and, as do all people have the innate desire and need to communicate.
Keli, the youngest of 3 Thorsteinsson boys has autism. For years he was nonverbal and the so-called experts told Margaret Ericsdottir and her husband Thorstein not to expect much from their son as he was believed to be on a mental plane with a 2-year-old. When you dig deeper into that erroneous finding, never underestimate even a child that age. The toddler brain is absorbing language and a lot of brain development is taking place then. Sadly, nobody knew just how bright Keli was until he was closing in on his teens. Over time, it was discovered that Keli had a wide range of musical appreciation and was even a Beatles' fan!
The Golden Hat foundation, named by Keli is created to help people with autism and their families find communication tools. Good on Kate Winslet and all the others who banded forces to make the Golden Hat Foundation a reality. These kind people who have stepped up to the plate have paid it forward. Kate Winslet, in her series of e-mails to the author has shown a deep empathy for what family members of a loved one with autism confront and at all times she showed respect for Keli. Keli had the pleasure of meeting Kate Winslet in London during a film shooting.
People familiar with autism literature and films encounter old "friends" such as Tito and Soma The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism
, (Soma worked with Keli as well as Dov, Portia Iversen's oldest child from Strange Son
, Carly, the bright young woman who was nonverbal from "Medical Mystery Story" and Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism
and Neal Katz, who was just delightful in Autism: The Musical
I loved reading updates on people I had read about in other books and learning about more people who have been helped with communication techniques. Bless you, Kate and thank you! I can never thank you and the others enough. You have been Ambassadors to Autism and have paved a Boulevard of Tolerance. Again, I say thank you!
As an added bonus, readers are treated to Icelandic culture and some of Keli's writings include nods to his Icelandic heritage. His poem about the mountain is very a propos and very deep.
This book has a common bond with SOULS: BENEATH & BEYOND AUTISM (paperback version)
in that extraordinary photographs of people with autism with a short passage by them are included. I found Keli's poetry especially intense; again, it is crucial to remember that because a person is nonverbal, that does not mean the person isn't understanding what is going on. Dov, the young man featured in "Strange Son" said he'd been spending his time listening. That was the way he learned. Tito and Soma, who came to America from India and worked with Dov have since relocated to Austin, Texas. Rowan Isaacson, the boy featured in The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son (Thorndike Press Large Print Basic Series)
was helped via unconventional methods and he, like Tito is in Austin Texas.
In fact, on an interesting note, Soma and Tito have founded HALO, (Helping Autism through Learning & Outreach) in Austin, Texas which is rapidly becoming an educational center for people with autism. Soma's book Understanding Autism through Rapid Prompting Method
is the key that unlocked the limbo of silence in which many people with autism are trapped.
Please, please buy this book and make a gift out of it. It is a gift to you as well. You can pay it forward by passing the Golden Hat around to others so that they, too can share in this very special gift, the gift of being a good person. It is past time to LISTEN to autism. It is long past time people with autism were given a turn at bat and I am glad to see that is happening.
Margaret Ericsdottir, Kate Winslet, Leo DiCaprio et al., again, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You have really reinforced what it means to be a good person.