My 21-year old autistic daughter is a writer. She writes in the morning, she writes at lunch time, and writes when she gets home from school until she goes to bed. Her ideas for stories consume and excite her and she can’t wait to write them, re-write them and then write them again. She often felt more of a failure than a success because it wasn’t right the first, second or third time. However, her complete immersion in her thoughts had always fascinated me, and I would sneak to read her stories so I could get a glimpse into her mind and imagination. I wondered if I could somehow help her complete the process more efficiently. I wondered if I could help her or guide her, and often offered to edit or review her stories. But to her, they were unfinished and not ready for anyone or me to see.
And then, a very special person walked into our lives. His name is Barry Rudner. Barry was a guest teacher at our school, Christi/STEPSS Academy, to teach Creative Writing. Christi/STEPSS Academy is a small private school for learning disabled and typical children, but also has a program for children with autism. My daughter, Briana, was one of the fortunate students to be in one of Barry’s classes. I remember the day she came home, barely able to contain this amazing fact Barry had shared with the class: there is no creativity in Creative writing. Wait a minute! What! There is no creativity in Creative Writing? No, Barry said, there is not, but there is a lot of hard work!
A lightning bolt had hit her, the angels sang and she saw her writing differently. She saw that the ideas and experiences can come to the mind and then flow to paper. But then, the editing and re-editing was work and a process. She realized that it was okay that it wasn’t right by the third time, but maybe by the 50th time or the 100th time, it was nearly perfect. I was so touched by the transformation I witnessed before me.
I was so grateful to this writer, this author named Barry Rudner. I needed to get to know this person a little bit better. And I can say that my life, and the lives of our students, were enriched because of him. I do not believe that there is a topic on which Barry cannot speak. He is incredibly educated, highly intelligent and is able to see the world in a way that most of us will never see. And he was able to reach students that society may have thought were unreachable.
To Barry, the children were children, the students were students, and their disabilities were just a part of who they were. The students admired him and he admired them. And after reading his books, it is easy to see that he can see the beautiful differences in all children, and especially children with disabilities. It doesn’t matter which book you read, You're the Apple of My Face, The Littlest Tall Fellow, The Handstand, Special Ed, Silent Voice or any other of his books, Barry is able to show us the challenge, but also show us the beauty and give us the hope for these children and their futures. He has been given the gift of being able to take a person, place or thing and, through words and illustrations, give us the ability to touch, see and feel through our hearts and souls. I am sure Barry Rudner has much more beauty to share with us and I, for one, can’t wait to see where he will take us next.
Title: Silent Voice
Genre: Children's fiction, Family
Author: Barry Rudner
Publisher: Nick of Time Media, Inc.
Purchase link: http://www.nickoftime.us/hardcover-books.php
SILENT VOICE: A modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up. Ever.