Awesome brother a ‘TED’ topic

A Cloverdale girl helps spread Autism understanding and awareness with a TED talk-inspired classroom assignment.

Emma and Connor Macchabee are wearing blue April 2 for Autism awareness.

Emma and Connor Macchabee are wearing blue April 2 for Autism awareness.

Inspired by an assignment to compose and present a ‘TED Talk’ in class, Emma Macchabee realized she had a perfect topic in her younger brother, Connor.

Emma, a Grade 7 student at George Greenaway Elementary, titled her talk, My Brother is Awesomely Autistic, according to her mom, Julie, who learned about the plan when her daughter asked, “Mom, have you heard of TED Talks?”

She was referring to the global set of conferences on a variety of subjects, presented last week for the first time in Vancouver and featured talks by the likes of Chris Hadfield, Bill Gates, and Sting.

TED got its start 30 years ago as a conference on technology, entertainment and design, but really gained prominence after the talks were posted online.

Back in Cloverdale, Emma’s topic had to be something she’d personally experienced and that she’d want to share with others, Julie says.

In her talk, Emma, 12, described her 10-year-old brother’s characteristics: he’s funny, loves to swim, go camping and play video games.

She also revealed how she feels when other people treat him poorly, and urged others to stop bullying.

We are all the same, she said, concluding with the observation that  despite our apparent differences, everyone wants to have a friend, to be a friend, and be included.

Her TED talk resonated with classmates, and earned her first place, so was invited to give her presentation to intermediate grades.

The Macchabees – Emma, Connor, Julie and Dan – are proud supporters of World Autism Awareness Day in Canada and hope others will join them in showing their support, too.

On April 2, the family will share puzzle lapel ribbons (the puzzle represents the mystery and complexity of autism) and wear the colour blue, symbolizing support for other families dealing with the disorder.

On that day, the family’s outdoor lights will also be switched to blue to match.

Autism is a range of neurological disorders that affect the way a person interacts and communicates with others. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

By working to increase awareness of local families living with autism,  Julie Macchabee hopes to foster support for inclusion of people with autism in Cloverdale.

The good news, she says, is many children with autism are able to make remarkable progress, especially if they receive intensive, individual instruction and therapy in their first few years of life.

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