It’s not just that they have raised over $18 million for the autism spectrum disorder cause since Comedy Central inaugurated the “Night of Too Many Stars” in 2006.
It’s not just that it’s funny, entertaining, and does so much to raise awareness about different brains.
It’s not just that they help real programs survive and serve.
It’s not just that they highlighted the talented Jodi DiPiazza, who happens to be on the autism spectrum performing and singing with “Weird Al” Yankovic.
“While many great organizations focus primarily on autism research, Night of Too Many Stars and New York Collaborates for Autism raise funds to support autism schools, programs and services.”
Yes, this is what the world needs more of! Recognition that we are all in this together, and that we need real solutions, real Aspertoolsto help all of the individuals whose brains are a bit different — and their families. Places and resources to which to turn.
Yet recognizing the good efforts of researchers and the organizations that support them. All for one, one for all.
So, hats off to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and all those who give so generously of their time and efforts to support real programs, schools, services and real Aspertools for all of us. One size does not fit all.
This blog was originally published here. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Different Brains® Inc. founder Harold “Hackie” Reitman, M.D. is an author, filmmaker, retired orthopedic surgeon, former professional heavyweight boxer, the past chairman and president (and current board member) of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, and a neurodiversity advocate. However, it was his role as a father that led to the creation of the DifferentBrains.org website.
Hackie’s daughter Rebecca grew up with epilepsy, 23 vascular brains tumors, and underwent 2 brain surgeries before the age of 5. Her struggles and recovery put him on the road to, through 26 professional heavyweight boxing matches, raising money for children’s charities (to which he donated every fight purse).
Rebecca eventually went on to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Discrete Mathematics, and Dr. Reitman wrote and produced a film based on her experiences there (The Square Root of 2, starring Darby Stanchfield of ABC’s Scandal). After graduation, Rebecca received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Hackie, shocked at his own ignorance of the topic despite being an M.D., embarked on years of research that culminated with his book Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity (released by HCI books, publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).
This experience revealed to Hackie the interconnectedness of the conditions that fall under the neurodiversity umbrella, while alerting him to the in-fighting and fractured relations that often plague the organizations tasked with serving the community. Convinced that overcoming these schisms could help all of society, Hackie forged the Different Brains philosophy of inclusive advocacy: “Supporting Neurodiversity – From Autism to Alzheimer’s and All Brains In Between”.
In the company’s initial years of operation, Hackie self-financed all of the content on DifferentBrains.org, all of which offered free to view to the public. Currently he is the host of our weekly interview show Exploring Different Brains, writes blogs for the site, and tours the country speaking at conferences, conventions and private functions, all with the goal of improving the lives of neurodiverse individuals and their families, and maximizing the potential of those with different brains. Separate from Different Brains, Hackie is the founder and CEO of PCE Media, a media production company focusing on reality based content. He recently co-executive produced the documentary “Foreman”, the definitive feature documentary on legendary boxer and pitchman George Foreman.