Traditionally, June is a time for graduation. A time for endings, and a time for beginnings. Young adults leaving high school look to the future with a mixture of eagerness and apprehension. This is true for any high school graduate, but particularly for graduates who live with autism. I ran across this blog on the Autism Speaks website. It offers suggestions, assistance and tips to assist parents of youth with autism to help their children make the transition.

As the blog notes, over the next 10 years, more than a half million children with autism will enter adulthood.

I know I’ve said this before, and maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but NOW is the time to act. To be fair, there are pockets of groups and individuals who understand this. I’ve recently learned of the Madison House Autism Foundation, whose goal is to develop a national conversation around and strategic solutions to the lifespan challenges faced by adults with autism and their families. There are others, but it needs to be a universal cause.

Despite the years of working to advocate for our own children, it’s become even more urgent to advocate for all children and adults on the autism spectrum. Yes, groups are doing that, and I’d love to tell you all the work is done and we can just reap the benefits of that work. However, that’s not the case.

At Erik’s Ranch & Retreats, we have found that with a dawning awareness of the need for continued supports, there’s even more work to do. As advocates for adults with autism, staff at Erik’s Ranch & Retreats look daily for new ways to help society understand that adults with autism have unique and special talents that they need to be able to express. Our tour program, Erik’s Minnesota Adventures is one example of taking the interests and expertise of an adult with autism and turning it into a job that serves that individual and the community at large.

Recently we launched Genuine Genius, videos of individuals with autism doing what they love. We’re soliciting and posting 60-second videos from people around the world to help show the world what we already know; those with autism have talents to share. Follow me on Twitter as I tweet the videos to my followers @KathrynNordberg or visit, watch the videos and then share one of your own. Help society recognize the gifts individuals with autism have.

We, also, are preparing our inaugural Diamonds in the Rough, an art exhibit and sale to benefit adults with autism and Erik’s Ranch & Retreats. This October event will feature art from individuals with autism as well as emerging and established local, national and international artists. Artists with autism will receive compensation for submitting their art and becomes another way for these individuals to demonstrate their value to society and gain compensation for their talents.

I know everyone is busy, but take a moment to visit these sites and see how you can help spread awareness that individuals with autism are skilled and talented and deserve the same opportunities as their peers. This is, after all, a cause that will serve everyone, not just individuals with autism.


I know this, and I know you know it, too: Everyone has special talents or interests that are worth recognition. Erik’s Ranch & Retreats already focuses on what individuals with autism can do, rather than what they cannot. But we want the rest of the world to focus on that, too. By showing your child’s or a young adult’s genuine genius, we can help broaden society’s perspective of what is normal.

Here’s how it works: Send us a 30-to-60-second video displaying random acts of brilliance from your Genuine Genius (child or young adult with autism). Maybe the individual is an artist or singer, a math wiz, horse trainer or has a special interest or hobby. Whatever his or her passion or expertise, we want to share that with the world and help create a society that offers individuals with autism the same opportunities the rest of us take for granted.

Once we have amassed a collection of videos, we’ll also display the truly vast array of skills and talents this population collectively possesses by Tweeting them, sharing them with our Facebook fans and posting them on our website to show the world their individuality. Help us spread the word.

If you want to help us share these random acts of brilliance, log onto to find out how to submit a video and show the world the amazing abilities, skills and passions of your genuine genius.