It so happened that, on inauguration day, I entertained a big ballroom full of rotarians, getting them laughing with my spoonerism storytelling. Creating levity was a good thing to do, and below is the positive write-up from their newsletter. Appreciations to all!
Rindercella: From the Front Lines of the Autism Spectrum (with Malva and her son, Benjamin Tarasewicz)
“Once upon a time. . . .” is the beginning of tales familiar and hopeful, filled with the good, the evil, the unfortunate and the unaware, and a long journey of mind and body toward a possible ”happy ending.” Last Friday’s presentation of “Rindercella” was the perfect vehicle for Benjamin Tarasewicz to not simply entertain us, but to embody a story of transformation.
And, once again, it involves these words of gentle reminder: you really did have to be at Boulder Rotary last Friday to get what that means. Benjamin’s presentation began with a thoughtful, playful, affectionate introduction by Professor Patty Limerick. She told us of his TEDx-talk (on the Power of Kindness and Friendship), and how he has become an advocate for caring Autism activism. He is also a Temple Grandin Award winner (in 2014).
His mother, Malva, gave us a brief bit of insight into Benjamin’s autism history, and then Benjamin danced with the story of Cinderella, updated a wee bit to give a better stage for the Spoonerisms, thus giving it the title of “Rindercella.” It was in parts joyful, engaging, mischievous, humorous, mentally challenging, bawdy, and a double face plant on the table for at least one laughing Rotarian.
In the question and answer session that followed, part of the triumph of that light-hearted story was made clear when Malva told of having to re-teach Benjamin how to speak: one letter, one syllable, one word at a time. Autism had driven all speech from Benjamin’s lips as a child. A loving, patient, compassionate Mother – with the help of others, and one letter at a time – has given Benjamin the magic of words that sparkle in expressing a triumph familiar to all who know the best of fairy tales.
It is another beginning and a continuation of a conversation Boulder Rotary is having around the subject of Autism. It is the hope of some of us that we will continue to engage with Benjamin and the sparkle he brings to the story of autistic people and their families. – reported by Bill Moore for Boulder Rotary Club