There are so many great organizations that look to create awareness for a specific cause. What makes TSN 1200 Steve Warne’s story so special is the honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to share and educate others.
His recent project, Adventures in Autism, strives to bring awareness by sharing Steve and his son’s experiences. Steve explained to us how awareness evolves into tolerance and acceptance, then to understanding and kindness, to more money for research, and improved treatment that’s accessible to all.
Steve’s stories are all based from personal experience of raising his autistic son, Michael, who is now 23 years old. Steve is a well-known sports personality for the local TSN 1200 radio station. He’s a husband, and father of two. Looking through the Twitter feed for this new project, it’s clear to see the incredible resilience and patience that Steve embodies.
“We are extremely happy in our life with Michael and I want that to be the thing that shines through. I think people respond to that. Within that, there will hopefully be many moments that help people learn, gather insight, and ramp up awareness.”
When Steve and his wife Linda received the sad news of a diagnosis at CHEO when Michael was two, he explained how it was both shocking and heartbreaking. Michael’s first year seemed perfectly typical. Nevertheless, they powered through the initial surprise and began attending autism seminars in order to become better equipped to teach and help. They hired a lot of expert help over the years to work on language and communication. Linda handled the difficult tasks of securing government funding, organizing therapists, attending school meetings and volunteering for autism groups.
“My wife has been our autism quarterback…she’s been amazing in every way.”
Adventures in Autism shares genuine videos of Michael’s favourite activities, such as driving to see electrical towers, visiting arenas that have banners, checking out Schleich animal figurines, and going to Wal Mart to see their latest schedule of DVD releases.
“We’re fortunate in that Michael is verbal (many autistic people are not), has many skills and is almost always happy. His language skills are good, he has a great sense of humour and his memory skills are superhuman. For example, on cue, he can tell you the specific release date of every pop song in the last 20 years”.
By allowing viewers to follow along, Steve shines light on this complex condition in a way that makes it easier for people to digest. After one video, it is almost impossible not to become hooked. In such an interesting way that is difficult to put into words, the footage reveals the hard work this family has put in to fully accepting who Michael is, and in return, pulls on viewers’ heartstrings to have a new appreciation for what autism means for families.
“I like how timeless this project feels. I’ve done thousands of sports radio shows. Sports shows generally stay relevant for a few days, never to be listened to again. People who discover the channel will have content that should remain relevant until the day autism is wiped out.”
April is Autism Awareness Month. To get involved, Steve mentioned wearing a blue ribbon, posting on social media, making a donation or joining an autism fundraiser. But ultimately, he suggests that people just look to be more understanding, accepting and kind.
Many people could choose to let a diagnosis of autism negatively cast a shadow on the rest of their lives; Steve has chosen to share his personal feelings and light-hearted, unfiltered stories to educate people in the community. His main goal of creating awareness is already very much in motion with over 1000 followers on the Twitter account started in early December 2018. Visit www.adventuresinautism.ca for a look at this inspiring story of family and strength.
“The moral? Don’t let anything steal your joy, even when you’ve been dealt an unexpected hand.”