Monday, June 16, 2014

An Autism Awareness story that is close to my heart....

Autism Awareness Superheros!
Paul Howell and I first met when I wrote him an email telling him that I really liked how he delivered the news on our local television station. I could tell that he owned the anchor chair and was concerned about giving viewers what they needed.  I wrote the email, read through it about 100 times, had second thoughts about 100 times.... and then finally decided to send it!  I wanted to reach my dream of being a journalist, and who better to help than TV news anchor extrordinaire, Paul Howell!!!  I was confident that he could point me in a direction that would start the ball rolling.  I sent the email, relieved I had written and told him about my dream.  I expected that I would get a very generic "Thank You for watching, and best wishes in achieving your career path" reply.  I was totally wrong!  The reply I got was a list of steps that I could possibly take to start on the path of getting my foot in the door of the journalism field.  He suggested that I look into taking a journalism writing course and other college courses that may include an internship.  In addition to a list of steps to take, he also said that if he could help me in anyway, he would be happy to!  I was delighted!  We met a few weeks later at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore.  I couldn't believe that my favorite local anchor was sitting down with me and I was actually able to talk to him about my dream!  So, after calming down and realizing this was really happening, we settled into a conversation ranging from topics of how he got started in the news to his travels abroad.  I felt that he understood where I wanted to go, that my dreams were real, and that he really wanted to help me get there.  After that, it was full steam ahead on the dream train!  Having a disability meant nothing to Paul, but, helping me reach my dream did.  Even to this day, there aren't words to describe how much he motivated me to have the confidence to achieve my passion!  Years passed and Paul went on to marry his wife, Adriana, and they started their family with their bouncing baby boy.  Every parent's happiness is a healthy baby, but then Paul and Adriana started noticing that things weren't quite the same with their son.  The diagnosis of autism followed.  I was able to connect with Paul and interview him about his family's story.  It was incredibly moving for me.  Not only was I sitting across from the person who so patiently gave his time and energy to teach me, but I got the opportunity to show him that his efforts were never lost on me!  I felt honored that he was telling me of their amazing story of courage and resilience!  I was so proud that I could give back to Paul in this personal way.  I was proud that he and Adriana, even in the darkest days after diagnosis, didn't let the darkness last too long.  They wanted their son to live life to the best of his ability and be happy while doing it!  Their family is well on their way to that goal!  First grade in a mainstream classroom was accomplished with lots of hard work and determination!  Paul is still the same guy I met nine years ago.  Disability meant nothing to him then, and it means nothing now.  Helping the son he so deeply cares for and to reach the dreams he dreams of... that is what means the most to Paul and his family!  Autism doesn't define this family at all.. the ability and confidence to achieve dreams does!
                The first day of first grade! Lookin' super! :)            

This family and their heart warming experience is very close to my heart!

Swimming like fish! :)

Michelle Fischer is the host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

For more information on Little Star Center click here:
there are also Little Star Center locations in Lafayette and Bloomington.

Hear my interview with Paul here:

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