As a child makes their way through their educational journey, one universal truth cannot be escaped. That is, one must learn how to write, and write well, in order to succeed. Essays, reports, emails, and tweets are at the mercy of their author. With such an explosion of digital media and the social media revolution, the written word is more important than ever before. The main ingredient for great writing, like all forms of expression, is a great idea.
Across the Atlantic in merry old England resides the Ministry of Stories (Hoxton St., London). The Ministry is a creative writing playground with colourful tables and inspiring art on the walls. Founded by best-selling artist Nick Hornby, along with Ben Payne and Lucy Macnab, the Ministry runs workshops, writing clubs, and one-on-one mentoring, supporting young imaginations and encouraging children to express their inner authors and dreamers. Funding this venture, in part, is the wonderfully imaginative Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.
Dustin Hoffman’s eccentric portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in the 1988 classic Rain Man popularized the autistic individual on an unprecedented scale. Overnight, autism became associated with extraordinary savant skills (memory and math), and quirky behaviours – with the corresponding social difficulties and odd mannerisms.
Media portrayals of autism since Rain Man have often obscured autism rather than illuminated this complex condition. Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory is often described as a poster boy for Asperger’s syndrome, but he too is an exceptional case of savant traits (eidetic memory, extraordinarily high IQ), and verbal fluency that is non-existent for many on the Autism Spectrum.
Is it not time for popular media to address autism accurately in programming, given that approximately 1 in 68 children in North America are autistic?
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.