Let’s Talk Autism Burnout (Part 1)

This blog was born out of my desire to apply technology to the task of overcoming human limits.  The limits in mind were intellectual disabilities, especially autism.

The first stage in the unfolding of this dream will soon be launched, in the form of a communication app for non-verbal children with autism.  We call it “Quick Talk.”

I have learned from friends local and around the world, that there is something more important than this app.  This lesson is tools and solutions are useless without inspiration.  Without the creative and innovative energy to use them, they will fail in their purpose.  I am writing this as a contribution to the cause of inspiration.  I hope to keep the flame of optimism alive in our hearts as we fight autism.

Having spent 17 years parenting a child with autism, my wife and I are intimately aware of the painful difficulties involved with overcoming this affliction.  Autism has a personality and character all its own, and beating it requires understanding what we are up against.

Autism is persistent.  Once progress has been made, it rears its ugly head, and unleashes a fresh set of symptoms.  These new symptoms are often completely different from those we have previously faced.  Just when we thought we would be celebrating, we are forced to start the fight all over again.

Autism is ruthless.  It lacks any sympathy for our hopes, plans, or dreams.

Autism isolates.  It aims at our child’s mind and hits us in the heart (it can do the same to their teacher or therapist).  Autism uses our emotional despair to isolate us.  It leads us to believe no one cares or understands, which makes us retreat socially.  This is what autism loves.  It knows when we are alone, we are most easily defeated.

Autism silences.  It silences the child’s voice, stifles his parents joy, and quiets the enthusiasm of those who teach or provide them with therapy.

These are just some of the ways in which Autism burns us out.

These difficult times require us to remember our children are a canvas of possibilities.  It is our touch, along with all those who support us, which can turn the empty canvas into a beautiful masterpiece.  This mentality has helped us get through many a difficult day, week, and month (even year).

By no means do I have all the answers.  We are still fighting, learning, and resisting burnout.  What I do know is for our son to reach his potential, we have to beat burnout, and help those who support us do the same.

In my upcoming posts, I plan to show how the innovation culture of Silicon Valley has helped me beat burnout, and can help you as well.  


About Russ Ewell

Since 1994 I have been devoted to the research and application of innovative technology solutions to education. My passion for these pursuits has been driven by my experience as a parent of children with special needs. During the economic technological growth explosion of the 1990's I was lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and was fortunate enough to find a group of people with similar interests and passions. As a result I was able to launch a non-profit called Hope Technology Group whose mission became advancing the use of technology in education. We eventually launched Hope Technology School, which has used technology to build a fascinating and effective educational program that practices full inclusion. Around the same time, I was fortunate enough to develop and build an awarding winning program called E-Soccer with the help of great friends and excellent coaches. These endeavors have left me with a continuing hunger to learn more about the possibilites of education, technology, and inclusion.

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