Friday, April 8, 2011

Kate Winslet and "The Golden Hat"

About a week ago I read an article about Kate Winslet and her plans to release a book this fall drawing attention to autism. I had no idea that she was active in the autism community! In September 2010, she launched a nonprofit foundation dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with autism.
The following excerpt comes from The Golden Hat Foundation’s website:
The Foundation is the inspiration of one mother’s efforts to help another.  When Kate Winslet narrated A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, a documentary about a young Icelandic boy named Keli living with autism, the Oscar-winning actress and mother of two became inspired to make a difference.

After meeting Keli’s mother Margret, Kate was deeply touched by Margret's far-reaching journey to find a way for her nonverbal son to learn to communicate. And with that, the idea for the
Golden Hat Foundation was born.  The Foundation’s name comes from one of the first poems Keli wrote (using his letterboard), entitled “The Golden Hat”:

This boy had a golden hat.

The hat was magical. It could talk.
The boy did not have any voice. He had autism.
His hat was always with him.
His hat was lost one day.
Now he had no way of telling them his stories.
His mom and dad became sad.
They taught him spelling on a letterboard.
It was hard.

Kate’s book project entitled, “The Golden Hat,” is set to hit shelves this November. The book will feature self-portraits from celebrities wearing a “magical” hat, including a personal statement about what their first words would be if they had been previously unable to communicate.
Speech is often a casualty of autism. Prince Charming was nonverbal only 3 years ago. Things were so much harder for us back then. He was silently frustrated and in pain, rendering him violent and emotionally volatile. Some of my friends have kids with autism who are unable to speak. I know how hard it can be for a parent in this situation. I cannot even begin to fully understand what children on the spectrum feel as thinking, intelligent beings unable to confer their thoughts in the traditional way.
I love the inspiration for this book and hope it has a strong impact in bringing awareness to autism in all of its forms. Thank you, Kate! In the autism community it can often feel like the whole world is working against us, and it's nice to have one more person in our corner drawing attention to the epidemic.   
If you had no way to communicate and were given the magical gift of a golden hat to help you speak, what would you say?  

April is Autism Awareness Month! A group of mommy bloggers have joined together to help spread the word about autism. Please visit these wonderful blogs!
Join us, won’t you?
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