“I love spinny chairs!” the eleven-year-old writer, poet, dancer, musician, and sometime goofball Mara Chasar shrieks gleefully as she spins round and round in a sober black office chair. “Spinny chair! Everyone loves the spinny chair!!” So begins a 2013 conversation that will change the course of the entire Speaking for Ourselves project. Mara has Asperger’s syndrome, but while she acknowledges the myriad challenges of living with this condition, she demands acceptance of it and of herself on her own terms. Autism awareness is not enough, she proclaims. Autism acceptance is what’s needed. “Who says autism is a bad thing?” Mara challenges us to consider. “Autism isn’t cholera; it isn’t some disease you can just cure. It’s just there . . . . Awareness means you know it’s there, but acceptance means you know it’s there and it’s not going to go away . . . . And there is no cure. There really isn’t. It’s just there, wound into your personality.”
Keywords: Asperger’s syndrome, Music-Play Project, Artism Ensemble, E-WoMP (Exploratory World Music Playground), Green Eggs and Ham, Autism Speaks, autism awareness, autism acceptance, stimming, spinny chairs
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