Several years ago, a mom was incredibly overwhelmed yet determined. Her daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (then called Asperger’s Syndrome) and the resources for girls with autism were few and far between. Doubters and difficult people, however, were plentiful. Many saw her daughter as nothing short of a trouble maker, while others saw this mom and her husband as inept or “looking for a label”. It was rough. Wanting to smooth a path for others who would follow a similar trail, she wrote. In between therapy sessions for her daughter, she wrote. In between meetings with the school and the doctor, she wrote. She researched, wrote and pursued an unspeakable passion to follow through and present this work for publication. (Which, to be fair, was rather nerve-wracking!) She chose to look for a publisher who respected those on the Autism Spectrum, as well as had a sense of humor in the process.
One day, this mom received an email the book was accepted. It was a go! There is nothing, absolutely nothing in the world that compares to the feeling of getting your first book published. Even better still, having the ability to truly help others was what it really was all about. That put her over the moon.
Trust me. I know. I am that mom. And it’s still all about helping others and making a positive difference.
This brings me to Wayne.
Wayne Gilpin, the creator and publisher of Future Horizons, is someone who truly made an indelible mark on the world. Over the past 20 years, Future Horizons has grown to be a world leader for Asperger’s Syndrome and autism publications and conferences. The numbers of individuals, families, educators, professionals and more whose lives have been positively impacted by his work is impossible to measure.
This week, Wayne passed on. And my heart is heavy.
Upon hearing of his passing, the story of “the Dash” immediately filled my mind. What we do “during the dash” (the short horizontal line that signifies the most edited version of our time in this space, his being the symbol between the years 1938 – 2016) says it all. All of us have worth and purpose, and Wayne saw to it that many without a voice are now able to grab that dash, live more fulfilling lives, better understood by those around them.
And also enjoy the journey.
For parents, his work means knowing you aren’t in this realm called “autism” or “Asperger’s” alone. In fact, it’s ok to enjoy your child and letting yourself smile at so many moments only they can bring. Like telling you you look pregnant in the middle of the grocery store (when you aren’t, and are actually on a diet…)
For educators, his work means a deeper understanding of that quirky student in your classroom who may blaze through worksheets faster than you can crank them out, despite the fact they can’t tie their shoes yet or understand how to work in a group. Or be able to follow more than one direction at a time.
For professionals, therapists and doctors, his work means more information is readily available at your fingertips in the form of conferences, books, eBooks and more. This wealth of knowledge is yours for the taking and yours for the sharing, with your voice welcome, too.
For those on the Autism Spectrum, such as my daughter, it means you have intrinsic value, and do not let anyone else tell you otherwise. You have so much to give this world and the world is better off with people such as you in it. Your voice is the one that speaks the loudest and we are all here to listen. Personally, I know my daughter is helped by those who share their own stories, understanding she isn’t the only one “out there” who thinks and senses the world around her differently than neurotypicals do.
It is because of Wayne Gilpin and the family at Future Horizons that autism has moved forward and deeper into everyday conversation. His is a life to be celebrated. Thank you, Wayne, for all you have done.
My family and I will forever be grateful to Wayne for allowing us to share our story with the world. Personally, I will always remain humbled that he launched my career as an author, keeping company alongside so many others who continue to make a positive impact in the autism community and beyond. These names include Dr. Tony Attwood, Dr. Jed Baker, Ellen Notbohm and Dr. Temple Grandin, to name a few.
Thoughts of happy memories and wishes for peace go out to the entire family at Future Horizons. This is a tough time, indeed. Wayne, you are missed, and we will keep working hard, continuing to propel your mission forward.
~peace, love and gratitude, always,